Last night was Woodstock Whiskey Society’s fifth tasting of the year. April’s meeting was filled with the glorious taste of Four Roses Single Barrel and an assortment of store picks. We decided to shift gears a bit and do wheaters for May as most people in the group had never had any of the wheated bourbons in our lineup. As a result, I opted to select four easy-to-find wheated bourbons for a couple reasons. One being that if anyone liked them enough to purchase their own bottle, they could walk into most stores and find it, and secondly that most of the rarer wheated bourbons command such a high secondary market value that our group couldn’t afford to purchase them even if we could find them. The latter was definitely the more important factor.
The photo, as you can tell, does not have only wheated bourbons, but we always try to do a “bonus round” where people can request something that they’re interested in or something that they think might compliment (or contrast) what we’re drinking for the night. If I have the bottles, I will gladly retrieve them and give everyone a pour.
So what were our wheated bourbons? Let’s go down the line!
I typically try to arrange bottles by proof so that we don’t burn out our palates too quickly and can ease into the night’s selection. I stuck with that rule with one exception, placing Weller Special Reserve as our last bottle. If you’ve read my review for Weller Special Reserve , you know that I find that its caramel flavor profile is accentuated if it’s drank after a higher proof bourbon.
Jefferson’s Ocean Wheated Voyage 15
This is a personal favorite of mine and you can read a more in depth review of it here. Jefferson’s was the first pour of the night and was subsequently also the favorite. The salty nose with the creme brulee notes made it the clear winner. It’s low enough proof for beginners to enjoy, but it’s high enough that veterans won’t shy away from it. Sure, the Ocean aspect is kind of gimmicky, but give this one a try if you haven’t and it may surprise you.
Second on the docket was Larceny. This ended up being the least favorite of the night, but was still seen as an acceptable bottle for the price point ($22ish). It was my first time trying Larceny and while it wasn’t my favorite, it was still a decent pour. For me, there was a strong peanut-y nose with your typical bourbon flavor profile of caramel, oak and brown sugar. It was just kind of a basic bourbon and I can see why some people really like it as a daily drinker. Personally if I’m going for a budget bourbon that’s a solid deal for a fair price, I’d go with Evan William’s Bottled in Bond.
Maker’s Mark Cask Strength
Everyone at the table had tasted the basic Maker’s Mark, so they had an idea of what to expect. Cask Strength is where Maker’s really shines. You get a nose that’s dominated by the alcohol, but allowing it to rest for a bit really let some of the cinnamon and cherry notes come through. The palate was caramel and cinnamon and a bit of oak to round it out. Overall, this is Maker’s, but punched up a notch to really accentuate the flavor profile. Maker’s Cask Strength ended up being the second favorite of the night. We also pulled out a bottle of Maker’s 46 to compare with, which everyone seemed to like, but preferred the Cask Strength.
Weller Special Reserve
What do I need to say? It’s Weller. It’s a great pour for a great price (at MSRP) and it could easily be your daily drinker. It’s a caramel bomb through and through and is just pleasant to sip on. I made sure that people saved a bit of their Maker’s so that we could go back to back to accentuate the caramel flavor and people agreed that it was like drinking a thinner caramel sauce when done that way. I decided to kick it up a bit and grabbed a bottle of Stagg Jr. so that we could really do a back to back high proof to Weller. Stagg Jr. is one of my favorite bourbons and I never miss the opportunity to pull out a bottle. Everyone agreed that Weller was a solid pour and could see having a bottle in their home bar if they can find it at a reasonable price.
After the wheaters were all thoroughly tasted, I asked if anyone wanted to try anything else and one of the members asked for something peaty. We had previously tried some Laphroaig and Lagavulin at our first meeting, so I decided to go with an Ardbeg 10 this time around. Our members are growing fonder of Islay whiskies…excellent (insert Mr. Burns here). I gave him a pour and he said that while he enjoyed the taste, the nose on it was his favorite. He ended up nosing that glass for most of the rest of the night.
Another tasting has come and gone and our whiskey knowledge has been expanded. Everyone got to try something they hadn’t had before, which is ultimately one of the main goals of our group. Enjoying each other’s company while sipping on good whiskey is a fun time for everyone. I look forward to next month’s meeting where we will be taking quite the departure from our standard lineups and tasting some Japanese whisky. Until then, cheers!