That glass on the right is the first ever sample of the next bottling of Binny's Hand Picked Buffalo Trace Bourbon. It is awesome. We made that one little sample while picking our barrels; the product itself does not exist yet. And I can hardly wait for it to get here.

   The tasting panel met this week, picking a new vatting of Buffalo Trace and several barrels for individual bottling of Eagle Rare. As always, it was good times.

(Click the image for a good view of gorgeous bourbon in a smudgy glass)


Buffalo Trace

   I hope this doesn't read like sales-pitch hype, because I am genuinely thrilled about our upcoming Buffalo Trace bottling.

   Quick rundown: we do a multi-barrel vatting of Buffalo Trace to keep consistency in larger batches and from year to year. What we end up with is better than the sum of its parts; we are able to compliment an extra spicy barrel here with an extra sweet barrel there. You can be sure that the bottle that you buy in our Orland Park store will be the same blend as the bottle you convince your buddy to buy up in Lake Zurich.

   Just like last year, we were given twenty barrel samples, all bottled at the final 90 proof, all from the same warehouse area, and noteworthy this year as the oldest batch we've gotten yet. The dilemma: every sample was top-notch. We all agreed that we'd be thrilled if we bought a bottle of any one of the barrels. 

   We came to a pretty quick consensus on our favorite fourteen barrels, and then waited patiently as The Whiskey Hotline's very own Joe Maloney blended small measures of each into a glass. This blend was passed around the group along with the last of the previous batch for comparison. It needed just a little more sweetness, so we added the sweetest remaining barrel to the blend. Pow. Fifteen barrel blend. It sings.

   So look forward to the next bottling of Buffalo Trace, arriving in late spring. It's round and sweet like our last batch, but with a little more spirited punch and a little heftier caramel. Buffalo Trace is the cornerstone of our Hand Picked Selections, and ours is the best Buffalo Trace around. Again, I don't know how to say this without making it sounds like a sales pitch, but I think this is the best 25 bucks you can spend on bourbon.


Eagle Rare

   Eagle Rare is interesting bourbon. It tends to be less big and burly than our other Hand Picked bourbons, more intricate with savory and herbal notes and hints of dry grass along with bright butterscotch. Pleasing and complex stuff.

   This time around we chose from ten samples; picking five to be bottled singly at 90 proof. All ten samples were pretty consistent, with small differences here and there. One with a little extra peachy fruit, one with a little more spice, but that's mostly splitting hairs. If you do happen to find one you really love, grab the rest off the shelf. 


One More Tasting Note: Bulleit Rye

   Bulleit Bourbon is a big brand, and if I could use the word "commercial" without it seeming too negative, I would. It comes from Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and we're seeing more and more interesting whiskey from Lawrenceburg. One thing that makes Bulleit stand out from the luxury bourbon pack is its high rye content just under 30% that gives it a spicy spine. So now they're releasing Bulleit Rye, at 95% rye. We got a sneak peek at this new bottling. Not a Hand Picked Selection, but noteworthy.

   It's interesting. The first thing to jump out at me on the nose is lots and lots of mint. Like, really minty mint, fresh in a garden (of the other tasting notes I've seen, mint hasn't been mentioned, but it wasn't just me).The mint carries across into the palate, along with a strong vegetal note, even peppers. There's a little sweetness and grain in there too. Certainly worth seeking out, at least in a tasting somewhere. Not sure how soon it will hit retail shelves.