The Bourbon Barrel


A Gentleman's Guide to "The Good Stuff"

Corner Creek Reserve: Distilled by the Corner Creek Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, Corner Creek is not your average bourbon. Priced at around $27 a bottle, corner creek is actually relatively rare and usually goes for around $35 a bottle if you can find it, due to demand. Made from a Wheat, Corn and Rye mash, the bourbon is incredibly mellow for a wheat bourbon and has a very distinct taste. Bottled at 44% or 88 ABV, you would expect some heat from this bourbon, however, I recommend drinking it straight, no ice due to the mellow taste profile of the whiskey. To the nose, the bourbon has a very nice mellow oak and strong caramel with a hint of vanilla and an almost buttery scent. When the bourbon hits your tongue you are immediately met with a very nutty caramel taste, almost like peanut brittle. The bourbon has a nice spice to it that I can't quite put my finger on, similar to a baking spice, but is in no way overpowering. The variety of flavors blend perfectly in this drink and have a very nice smooth, buttery finish. I give it 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend this bourbon to anyone who can find it. Enjoy!

Rowan's Creek: Distilled by the Rowan's Creek™ distillery in Bardstown, KY is produced  under the Willet™ line and is named after the creek that runs through the distillery. Aged for 12 years and bottled at 50.05% ABV or 101.1 proof, the bourbon has a bit of "heat" to it, and is best enjoyed over ice. To the nose, the bourbon is a little intense, but once swirled or aerated, the bourbon vastly opens up, revealing heavy notes of spice, syrup, mint, and caramel. On The palate, there are very heavy notes of caramel and vanilla, with underlying notes of clove and spice, and being a 12 year bourbon, a finish of strong oak. I would recommend enjoying this bourbon with a splash of spring water, or over crushed ice. The distiller describes Rowan's Creek as a bourbon that "Starts out with great spicy, minty notes & when water is added the nose makes you want to set up a tent in the woods! Classic caramel & vanilla notes shine on the palate with light cedar & more mint notes prevailing at the end." The bourbon would pair nicely with a light Connecticut cigar and is perfect for any occasion or season. Fill your glass, and Enjoy! 

W.L Weller™ Antique: Yet another bourbon distilled by the Buffalo Trace™ distillery in Franklin county, the Weller Antique is a really nice bourbon from my favorite distillery. Bottled at 53.5% ABV or 107 proof, the Weller 12 is a bit stronger than your "average" bourbon. Buffalo Trace™ describes the spirit as having "Sweet and unusual floral notes and coupled with vanilla" This is not far of from what I gathered. The spirit had a very strong scent and taste of vanilla and long oak flavor. A heavy fruit undertone was very prevalent when a few drops of water were added. With a very smooth, oaky finish, the W.L Weller™ Antique bourbon goes down very nicely and leaves a very silky oak aftertaste. Similar to the Weller™ 12 year, the antique series has a strong wheat taste to it, which makes the spirit taste a little "warmer" and gives a smooth kick to the finish. I have heard that if you mix the Weller 12 and the Antique you get a "poor Man's Pappy" but I have yet to try this trick in fear of ruining a few good bourbons in one sitting. All in all, the W.L Weller™ Antique bourbon is a fantastic spirit for the price for only about $30 a bottle. So if you want to try something new that is affordable and delicious, go out and grab a bottle. Enjoy!


Jefferson's™ Ocean: Aged at Sea: Starting as an experimental bourbon aging process, the folks down at Jefferson's™ bourbon decided to take things to the next level and age 62 barrels of 7-8 year old bourbon out on the high seas for around 7-8 months. The rocking of the boat and heavy oxidization allows the bourbon to move constantly around the barrel and pick up some interesting flavors during its voyage. Bottled at 45% ABV or 90 proof, the bourbon has a good strength to it, but doesn't overwhelm the drinker. Any intermediate to advanced bourbon drinker will truly enjoy this well traveled bourbon. The bourbon has a dark amber color to it, showing the oak it has been exposed to. The nose gives off a strong "sea air" smell similar to that of a scotch or a rum (Very different liquors, I know, but bear with me). Theres a strong scent of caramel, oak, and cinnamon, To the palate, the bourbon is very smooth and soft, with strong oak and caramel tasting notes. When tasting the bourbon I felt like there was a slight saline taste to it, due to the sea air, but this could have been me trying too hard to taste the ocean! Overall, the Jefferson's Ocean: Aged at Sea bourbon is a great tasting spirit and something fun to show off in your bar or home, but may not be worth the hefty price tag. This bourbon has a fun backstory and truly is a delicious dram, but isn't going to shock your tastebuds and change your life. So if you want a good bourbon thats been around the world, Jefferson's Ocean is for you, if you don't want to spend the money, find a bar that serves it and "test the waters." Enjoy!


Willett™ Pot Still Reserve: Distilled by the WIllett distillery in Bardstown, KY, is the Willet™ Pot Still reserve bourbon. Bottled at 47% ABV or 94 proof, this bourbon may not be the best choice for a beginner. At first glance, the bottle is incredibly attractive, fashioned in the shape of an old pot still. The bourbon fills the glass with a light mahogany color and is darker than most bourbons in the collection. The nose is full of cinnamon and spice and an oddly powerful aroma of bananas. Upon sipping the magical liquid, you can pick up a strong oak taste with notes of butterscotch and honey, along with more banana. The bourbon has a very smooth rye finish and goes down wonderfully. When served on the rocks, or with a few drops of water, the fruity aromas and tastes come to life, especially the banana flavor. Having Edward Willet be a Maryland boy like myself, I felt obliged to pick up a bottle, and am very glad that I did. Overall a very nice bourbon to add to the collection. Check out for a background and overview of all of the WIllett brands. Enjoy!


Larceny™ Small Batch Bourbon: Produced by the Heavenly Hills™ distillery, Larceny small batch is a 45% ABV or 92 proof small batch bourbon created with wheat in place of rye. The bourbon is new to the Old Fitz line, but as of now, is not replacing the original Old Fitzgerald bourbon. To the nose, the Larceny has a strong scent of cinnamon, honey, and vanilla, To the palate, there is a smooth oak taste with a small kick of cinnamon and caramel, with a very smooth finish. According to Heaven Hill, Larceny is drawn from 100 or fewer barrels aged for 6-12 years at at high storage. The barrels are produced by Master Distillers Parker and Craig Beam. I would highly recommend this bourbon to someone who want a full bodied bourbon with a smooth finish at a price that won't break the bank. Priced at around $35.00 a bottle, Larceny Small Batch Bourbon is a bourbon that should be in any connoisseur's bar. Enjoy!


Barrel Aged Manhattan: 

We recently picked up a 3 Liter Deep South Barrel™ for a barrel aged manhattan project. We used 2 Liters of Benchmark no. 8 bourbon, 1 Liter of Gallo™ sweet vermouth, and 2oz of Fee Brothers™ bitters. Having the 3 liter barrel be about 1/70 the size of a 55 gallon (Industrial) aging barrel, the time needed to age the drink is far less. So we thought we would try pouring a liter out every 5 days until empty, assuming that a 5 day age in a 3 liter barrel would be equivalent to a 365 day age in a 55 gallon barrel due to the surface area of wood to liquid. Although this sounds well thought out and scientific, we really just kicked back a few bourbons and decided 5 was a good number! The first liter was, quite honestly, way too bitter (our fault) with very subtle hints of oak. After this tasting, we mixed things up a bit.. We seared about 1/4 pound of american oak and added it to the barrel, along with an extra half liter of bourbon, to reduce the strength of the bitters. Then, 5 days later, we poured out a bottle. This was the best manhattan I have ever had. The oak mellowed the drink drastically and actually opened the flavor up quite nicely. The bitters problem had been solved and the extra oak sped the process up quite nicely. Our second bottle was so good that we couldn't wait another 5 days in fear of over-oaking and bottled the remainder on the 10th day. If you are interested in aging your own manhattan, a recipe on how to properly age a manhattan will be posted under the "recipe" tab. Enjoy!


Vinturi Spirit Aerator Review: I know it is unlike us here at TBB to review a product instead of an actual spirit, but I feel obliged to inform the masses of this little gem. I recently picked up a Vinturi Spirit Aerator, having used the wine aerators in the past, I thought I may as well try the thing. I expected very little from the product, seeing as I will always "swirl" my drink in my glass for a while before drinking it, and I assumed that this aerator would have a similar, if not smaller effect on the bourbon. To my surprise, I was far from correct. Running a dram of bourbon through this thing really brings out the flavor of the oak and opens up the spirit drastically. Although it worked very well on bourbon, I tried it on a single malt scotch and was simply blown away by the subtle, yet taste changing difference it made. I would highly recommend picking one of these things up if you want to try something new. Enjoy!


Buffalo Trace™ bourbon stemming from the Buffalo Trace™ distillery in Franklin County,KY is aged in charred oak barrels for at least eight years and bottled at 45% ABV or 90 proof, Making it a bit stronger than your average spirit, yet smoother than most. Buffalo Trace™ is sold for around $25 a bottle and is a great bourbon for someone trying to branch out into the quality bourbon scene, without breaking the bank. Founded by E.H Taylor in 1869, the Buffalo Trace™ distillery produces numbers of American classics, Buffalo Trace™ being the heart of it all. so grab a glass, fill it up, and enjoy.


McAfee's Benchmark No.8 ™ is another great bourbon coming from the Buffalo Trace™ distillery in Frankfurt County. Purchased from Seagrams in 1989, the bourbon is on the lower end of the Buffalo Trace team. Bottled at 40% ABV or 80 proof, running about $10 a liter, its hard to pass up on this bourbon. Ranked a 90 out of 100 by Wine Enthusiast™ Benchmark goes down easy and mixes wonderfully in a manhattan. Originally marketed as a higher level bourbon, Benchmark has not lost it's taste, but has lost it's price tag. For a few bucks a bottle, this bourbon is great for a new bourbon drinker or for daily consumption. Pick it up and try it, it may just be the new bourbon for you.



Cigars and bourbon go together better than peanut butter and Jelly. Pairing a nice cigar with some bourbon can drastically change the flavor of both the cigar and the bourbon at hand. Pairing a light cigar such as a "Oliva V Connecticut" with a sweeter bourbon like a "Bulleit Rye" will allow for a very mild, sweet experience that would blend well with a high cocoa based chocolate. However, if, like me, you prefer a darker, heavier cigar, I would recommend pairing your cigar with a more oaky bourbon like an "Eagle Rare 10yr." provides a very good report on bourbons and cigars to pair. Stay tuned for weekly cigar and bourbon Pairings coming next month. Enjoy!