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
Age: 8 years, 6 months
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.
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
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.
In 2019, Four Roses debuted its first core expression since 2006, Four Roses Small Batch Select. Composed of six of the distillery’s ten signature recipes and bottled at 104 proof (NCF), it was virtually a success before hitting a single shelf. It’s 2021; let’s check in.
Pour: Four Roses Small Batch Select
Age: NAS (reportedly 6-7 years)
Nose: fruity vanilla, citrus zest, sweet herbal tea
Taste: peppery caramel, orange peel, honey-esque oak
Finish: moderately long – frosted sugar cookies, oak char, earthy/floral spice
Overall: Filling Jim Rutledge’s shoes can’t be easy, but master distiller Brent Elliott sure makes it look that way. Granted, we’re still sipping bourbon distilled under Jim’s care, but the batch itself is on point and checks every box it should for $55.
Rating: It’s great.