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.
I’ve been a fan of New Riff’s bourbon for some time now. What they can do in a handful of years is remarkable. Until today, I’ve yet to experience their straight rye whiskey, and I’m doing so with their single-barrel expression, bottled NCF at full barrel proof. Cue the riff!
Pour: New Riff Single Barrel KY Straight Rye Whiskey 16-2074
Age: 4 years
Nose: apple, honey-butter, lemon zest, floral spice
Taste: cake frosting, lemon-lime soda, hints of ginger
Finish: moderately long – toffee drizzle, peppery oak, faint leather
Overall: A zesty, enjoyable Kentucky rye. While there’s a trace of youth here, it’s not at all distracting. In fact, I’d argue the vibrancy enhances its character. New Riff Single Barrel Rye is flavorful, sips its proof, and as such, gets my recommendation.
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.
A not-so-attractive name with important historical significance. Some folks call Jim Beam’s Old Tub “Booker’s Junior.” An oxymoron of sorts, but they’re not entirely wrong. Regardless, a bottled-in-bond NCF KSBW for $20. What can go wrong?
Pour: Old Tub
Age: at least 4 years
Nose: peanut brittle, buttered corn, light baking spice
Taste: peppery vanilla, nutty caramel toffee, toasted sugar
Finish: moderate length – sharp vanilla, brisk oak, diminishing black pepper
Overall: It’s $20, better than Beam Black, and it makes a solid Old Fashioned. Knob Creek it is not, but then it’s not supposed to be. Old Tub is decent whiskey at a budget price. It also looks good sitting on a shelf next to bottles triple its price.
Rating: No complaints.