Peerless Small Batch Rye

This is my second venture into Peerless Distilling Co.’s offerings. Today, I’m tasting Peerless Small Batch Rye Whiskey. Like the small batch bourbon, it’s bottled NCF at barrel proof. I assume batches and profiles vary. Let’s hope this rye fares better than the bourbon.


Pour: Peerless Small Batch Rye
Proof: 109.6 (barrel proof)
Age: not stated
Color: rich amber
Nose: sugar cookie, maple, buttered cinnamon bread
Taste: caramel creme, lemon frosting, vanilla extract
Finish: long & rich – English toffee, charred oak, cola


Overall: An exceptional pour. There’s complexity, depth, and a striking richness (almost syrup-like) that’s rarely found in younger Kentucky rye whiskeys. Peerless Small Batch Rye may not be cheap, but damn if it doesn’t taste expensive.

Rating: Legitimately impressive.

Peerless Small Batch Bourbon

I’ve been aware of Peerless Small Batch for some time now. I simply didn’t feel the need to purchase an expensive bottle of young whiskey. After discovering mini bottles for sale, I reconsidered. Barrel-proof, NCF Kentucky straight bourbon – it should at least be decent, right?


Pour: Peerless Small Batch Bourbon
Proof: 110.0 (barrel proof)
Age: at least 4 years
Color: rich copper
Nose: buttered corn, stewed apples, chewing tobacco
Taste: dense caramel, black licorice, tilled soil
Finish: moderately long w/ black tea, oak char, earthy spice


Overall: Perhaps I set my expectations a little higher than warranted. Peerless Small Batch tastes as it arguably should – like craft whiskey with potential. That being said, if you love earthy, dirty “root-like” notes, give this bourbon a try.

Rating: Peers abound.

Evan Williams White Label

Google “best cheap bourbons” and you’re unlikely to find Evan Williams White Label taking a spot in the highest ranking search results. A bottled-in-bond Kentucky straight bourbon for $15? Seems like a no-brainer. Yet, outside of enthusiast circles it’s seldom celebrated.


Pour: Evan Williams White Label (Bottled in Bond)
Proof: 100
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: vanilla, fresh-cut corn, grainy spice
Taste: caramel candy, nutty oak, confectioners sugar
Finish: moderate length w/ light toffee, nutmeg, hints of oak char


Overall: If you’re expecting hype, you’ve come to the wrong place. Evan Williams White Label tastes exactly as it should – like 4-year, 100-proof bourbon. It’s not great. It’s not underrated. It’s precisely where it belongs – a stalwart of the bottom shelf.

Rating: Budget buy.

Bulleit 10-Year Bourbon

You hear a lot about McKenna Bottled in Bond, Eagle Rare, and Russell’s Reserve 10-Year, but not as much about Bulleit 10-Year. As well as the non-age-stated Bulleit Bourbon sells, you’d think you’d hear more. I wager there’s a reason. Perhaps this tasting will shed some light.


Pour: Bulleit 10-Year Bourbon
Proof: 91.2
Age: 10 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: orange spice, toasted honey, floral essence
Taste: vanilla syrup, nutmeg, charred oak, citrus zest
Finish: moderate length w/ leather, herbal tea, faint mint


Overall: Bulleit 10 may be the lightest 10-year bourbon I’ve tasted. It’s flavorful and easy to sip – a notch above standard Bulleit – but that’s about it. With minor depth and complexity, one could argue its strength is inoffensiveness.

Rating: Bulleit with butterfly wings.

Jim Beam Bottled in Bond (1976 export)

Having recently reviewed a 1977 Jim Beam White Label, as well as a modern iteration, I figured I’d strike while the iron was hot and review a 1976 export. Curiously, this whiskey is bottled in bond at 86 proof. Uncommon nowadays, but allowable by law. Sláinte! (export cheers)


Pour: 1976 Jim Beam Bottled in Bond Bourbon (export)
Proof: 86
Age: 5 years
Color: amber rose
Nose: butterscotch, apple cider, frosted pastry
Taste: vanilla candy, butterscotch drizzle, light oak
Finish: moderately short – caramel, candied pear, faint spice


Overall: I’ll have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. While far tastier than today’s Beam, it’s a notable step down from the 1977 80-proof domestic bottling. I can only assume the bottled-in-bond “one season” clause limits the batch to younger bourbon.

Rating: One-trick dusty.

Barterhouse Bourbon

Ah, orphan barrels – the great oxymoron of American whiskey. Yet they exist, or so Diageo would have you believe. As for 2014’s Barterhouse, a 20-year $75 bourbon (reportedly distilled at Bernheim) isn’t exactly something to shake a stave at. Hell, it was a steal.


Pour: Barterhouse Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 90.2
Age: 20 years
Color: copper
Nose: dark cherry, fragrant oak, honey-maple, leather
Taste: chocolate-covered plum, vanilla bean, charred oak
Finish: moderate length w/ cola, licorice, sweet clove & sassafras


Overall: Delicious. While I wouldn’t classify Barterhouse as complex or layered, it’s rare to find 20-year bourbon so damn palatable. I particularly enjoy the contrast between its woodiness and dark cherry/plum sweetness. A noteworthy study in mature whiskey.

Rating: Memorable.

Maker’s Mark 101

Formerly known as Maker’s Gold and limited to non-domestic markets and distillery-only occasions, 101-proof Maker’s Mark was once a rare acquisition for Americans. It can now be found at your local liquor store for $40 (nearly twice the price of a certain legendary 101).


Pour: Maker’s Mark 101
Proof: 101
Age: At least 4 years
Color: rich copper
Nose: vanilla, cherry preserves, butter cookies
Taste: creamy caramel, orange-honey, frosted pastry
Finish: moderate length w/ vanilla spice, sweet oak, cinnamon


Overall: The Wild Turkey fan in me wants to call out Maker’s marketing for coattail riding. Point aside, Maker’s 101 is incredibly delicious. It truly is. Why people continue to pay stupid money for mediocre wheated bourbons with this in abundance is puzzling.

Rating: 102

Jim Beam White Label (1977)

You don’t hear much about dusty Jim Beam Bourbon. Perhaps it’s because the label has changed very little. Perhaps it’s because people see so much of the modern iteration, a vintage bottling conjures little excitement. I know I felt that way, until a generous friend stepped in.


Pour: 1977 Jim Beam Bourbon a/k/a “White Label”
Proof: 80
Age: 5 years
Color: dense rosy copper
Nose: butterscotch, maple syrup, heavily steeped tea
Taste: funky molasses, blood orange, blackberry jam
Finish: moderately long – brown sugar, burnt caramel, oak char, dark citrus


Overall: To say I’m stunned is an understatement. It’s virtually everything I seek in a vintage whiskey profile, packing it all in at a “whopping” 80 proof to boot. Curiously, this ‘77 Beam has a finish akin to today’s Knob Creek Single Barrel. Noe kidding.

Rating: An awakening.

Jim Beam White Label

Here’s one we all know – Jim Beam “White Label.” In my pre-enthusiast days, this was bourbon (as in the only bourbon that existed). I’ve come a long way since, but I must admit, I carry a strange fondness for this classic label. Memories … good and bad in the very best way.


Pour: Jim Beam Bourbon a/k/a “White Label”
Proof: 80
Age: at least 4 years
Color: amber
Nose: nutty vanilla, caramel popcorn, nutmeg
Taste: vanilla, buttered corn, lightly roasted nuts
Finish: moderately short – toffee, mild oak char, faint spice


Overall: Look, I’m not going to try to convince you that you should buy this whiskey. It is what it is, but what it ain’t, is awful. The early bourbon snob in me would’ve snarked. That early bourbon snob was an ass. Jim Beam does the job it was made to do.

Rating: Party bourbon.

Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon

Once labeled “small batch,” Baker’s Bourbon was rebranded as a single-barrel expression in 2019. Thankfully, it maintained its 7-year minimum age and signature 107 proof. But what of its flavor profile? Does it occupy similar territory? I suppose that now depends on the barrel.


Pour: Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon b. CL-D-186433
Proof: 107
Age: 8 years, 6 months
Color: copper
Nose: English toffee, nutty caramel, orange peel
Taste: vanilla extract, sweet oak char, maple-citrus
Finish: long w/ molasses, brown sugar, dense baking spice


Overall: An ideal combination of age and proof, not to mention a profile that stands out among its Knob Creek cousins. For $60, Baker’s Single Barrel has far more to offer than its specs suggest – richness, depth, and well-balanced bourbon character.

Rating: Dark horse.

Maker’s Mark RC6

Being a fan of Maker’s Mark SE4 x PR5 and FAE-01, it felt only right to review the inaugural wood finishing series release. I sampled RC6 back in 2019, and while impressed, I failed to purchase a bottle. Thanks to the recent generosity of a friend, I have RC6 in hand.


Pour: Maker’s Mark RC6
Proof: 108.2
Age: not stated
Color: rich copper
Nose: hazelnut, vanilla potpourri, maple syrup
Taste: toasted caramel, brown sugar, Roman nougat
Finish: moderately long w/ dark chocolate, coffee, woody spice


Overall: A robust, full-bodied whiskey with a rich dessert-like sweetness. In comparison to the two subsequent wood finishing iterations, Maker’s Mark RC6 is most similar to FAE-01, sans fruity notes. A lovely pour, though my least favorite of the three.

Rating: Sweet start.

Pendleton 1910

For years, Pendleton 1910 was a bottle often seen but never purchased. After tasting a generous sample, I enjoyed it enough to acquire a bottle for myself. $40 for a 12-year Canadian rye whisky … not bad. Sure, it’s only 80 proof, but ABV alone hardly defines quality.


Pour: Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whisky
Proof: 80
Age: 12 years
Color: rich amber
Nose: woody honey, Necco wafers, cream soda
Taste: vanilla syrup, gentle oak, mild baking spice
Finish: moderately short – maraschino cherry, brown sugar, rye bread


Overall: Quite satisfying. In many ways, a darker, woodier, creamier Crown Royal Reserve. I wouldn’t call 1910 Rye a bourbon substitute, but the sweet oak character is certainly relative. If WhistlePig’s rye isn’t your jam, Pendleton is a worthy alternative.

Rating: Alryet.