I was craving a Manhattan, and decided to try and blend something a little different, which ended up in the best Manhattan I’ve ever had.
The base is Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon, mixed with sweet vermouth, Dom Benedictine, and garnished with a Bada Bing Cherry.
This combo results in just the perfect level of sweetness that blends and swirls with Basil Hayden’s woody, spice, and oaky notes. This Manhattan scored a 95/100, putting it at the very top of the Manhattan scale.
I’ve had this Willett Pot Still Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey sitting on a shelf for a few weeks and finally decided it was time to crack it open.
I’m always nervous opening offerings with really distinct bottles. I’m afraid that the unique bottle is there to distract you from something else. Happily, at least with this Willet Post Still Reserve, that wasn’t the case.
The nose on this starts a little on the punchy side. The alcohol overpowers the more refined notes, at least until you open it up with a few drop of water. Those drops of water really let the brown sugar and vanilla shine though.
I enjoyed this Willett Pot Still Reserve Straight Bourbon, but not enough to put it in my Whiskey Safe. That rougher finish cost it some points for me, although the price does seem reasonable for this level of whiskey. Willett Pot Still Reserve Straight Bourbon scored an 81/100.
The brown sugar and vanilla is really enjoyable.
If you like a sweet middle and an oaky finish, you will love this.
Some small rough edges on the finish.
Hard to hide the bottle if your sneaking new whiskey into the house as it is quite distinctive.
The first thing that hit me on the nose was the alcohol. This whiskey is only 86 proof, but the alcohol on the nose would have made me guess higher. It wasn’t until I added some ice and let it open up that I could appreciate any of the more delicate notes. Once it opened up I could really smell the oak and vanilla. I was expecting to maybe smell something from the time spent in the Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, but the nose is all bourbon to me.
The first sip matched the nose. Straight, the alcohol smacks you in the face. Opened up a bit with some ice or water and I can appreciate the oaky vanilla on the sip, and it does finish with a red wine dry, acidic mouth feel that hints at a bit of sweet fruit.
I’m giving Agitator a 50/100, but because of its red wine roots, I am very curious to find out how it does in a Manhattan, as this is a Mixed Drinks Only bottle from here on out.
If you like a dry finish, this might be right up your alley.
Opens up with a bit of ice or water.
Red wine finish.
The straight whiskey has a very strong alcohol punch.
Is $30 bucks too much for this? The fact that I’m not sure makes it a con for me.
According to their website, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey uses a unique Solera System aging process to make their whiskey. What is the Solera Aging Process?
It kinds looks like a pyramid. If you watch the little video they provide you can see they basically created a named process for blending younger and older casks before they draw off the final product to be bottled.
So what does the end product of this pyramid process smell and taste like?
The nose is light charred oak, sweet vanilla and alcohol. None of the notes are particularly strong, they all just kind of sit there.
The first impression on the sip is vanilla and sweet until the swallow, which is dry oak and char as it goes down your throat. That char may be a shock for some. The front of your tongue picks up the sweet vanilla and when it hits the back of the throat it is raw and oaky and very strong compared to the opening.
There is an interesting duality on the swallow of this whiskey. It is a little dry from the time in the oak barrels but it is also very, and I’m struggling for the right word here, watery? There isn’t any real mouth feel to this whisky, it is just watery with no substance. I feel like something with this much oak should have more oil, something more substantial?
The stark difference between the soft sweet opening and the hardness on the swallow really cost this blended whiskey points. Blade and Bow scored a 48/100, meaning this whiskey is destined for Mixed Drinks Only.
Chestnut Farms Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled by Barton 1792 Distillery and is 90 proof. It won a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition according to their website. What year? I couldn’t find it, but that is probably due to my poor google skills. What I was able to find is that this bourbon doesn’t have a website, and is made at the same Barton 1792 distillery where they make the Costco and Trader Joe’s brand whiskeys. (According to the internet.)
I’ve found awards are hit and miss for me. Some things that people rave over, tastes like gasoline to me, while some things that didn’t even place, were things I’d buy another bottle of, so I didn’t get my hopes up for this Chestnut Farms.
I’m not a huge fan of rye. For me it just creates a lot of sharp edges and an aftertaste I don’t enjoy. Maybe that will change as I get older. I remember a time when I didn’t like Brussel sprouts, but now I love them.
Why am I talking about rye? It’s because this Chestnut Farms has some rye added onto its 51% corn and malted barley mash bill. That usually means I’m not going to like it, but in this case, they got the ratio just about perfect. All those rough edges I don’t appreciate in rye whiskeys are smoothed out and come out as spicy warmth in my mouth.
The nose is mild. There is a little caramel and toffee, but its not complex and overall it very light.
The palate is a little different from the nose. It has that warm flush of a regular bourbon that quickly turns to oak char and then finishes with the spice from the rye. Overall it is a very well balanced whiskey and a great introduction to rye for those who aren’t really rye lovers.
Chestnut Farms is Sip Worthy and scored a 77/100. It isn’t making it into my Whiskey Safe, but it is a bottle I could see myself picking up when the mood strikes me again.