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Semi-Blind Bourbonfest Barrel Pick Blitz

Welp, the original dates for Nola Bourbonfest have come and gone, and with no end in sight to Coronavirus 2020, I thought I’d bring a little bit of the fest to me. My ambition was simple, drink all of the Bourbonfest picks that I possibly could in one night. Using a completely unrefined palate and a nose that is critically weakened by a quarantine moustache, I would attempt to blindly judge what I believe to be the best pick of the fest.

Since October, these single barrel picks have been rolling into various New Orleans area liquor stores, and I’ve done my best to pick up every one that I can. Regrettably there are some omissions: Ragged Branch and Ragged Branch rye (which placed Silver at San Francisco), the 2 Bulleit Barrel Strength picks, the Elijah Craig which was released after we were supposed to be quarantined and yet are somehow gone, and the Jefferson’s which nobody really knows where the barrel is now located. In total that gives me 10 bottles:

· Old Forester Single Barrels, Sip 1 and VSOFBP

· Peerless Bourbon

· Peerless Rye

· Four Roses OBSF

· Belle Meade Sherry Cask Finish

· Whistlepig 10, The Deuce and Cousin Adam

· Wilderness Trail Wheat

· Wilderness Trail Rye

By my count that is 4 Bourbons, 1 Finished Bourbon, 1 Wheated Bourbon, 4 Ryes, an annoyed wife, and countless eye rolls. If you’re actually reading this then I assume you know what I’m talking about. All 10 glencairns were poured by her, semi-blind. Time to drink.

Glencairn 1

Nose: Sweet black fruit, ethanol, cranberries. 3

Palate: Medium feel, cinnamon and banana. 4

Finish: Spice and a Kentucky hug. 3 3.67 Old Forester Single Barrel Sip1

Glencairn 2

Nose: Fresh baked sugar cookies, vanilla, sour apple? 3

Palate: Light, sugary, mint. 3

Finish: Spicy finish, little bit too hot for me. 2 2.67 Peerless rye

Glencairn 3

Nose: Cherries, apple cider, heat. 3

Palate: Sweet heat, red fruits. 4

Finish: Hugs but leaves a spicy tingle. 3 3.67 Wilderness rye

Glencairn 4

Nose: Cinnamon, baking spice. 4

Palate: Brown sugar, like a bomb of butter went off, earthy. 5

Finish: Medium finish with lingering sweetness. 3 4 Cousin Adam

Glencairn 5

Nose: pre baked chocolate chip cookie mix, sour straws? Definitely finished which I think is throwing my nose around in circles 3

Palate: Cookie dough, buttery. 5

Finish: Warm spice, light. 3 3.67 Belle Meade sherry

Glencairn 6

Nose: sweet and sour sauce, heavy vanilla 3

Palate: Caramel, banana cream pie 4

Finish: Light, sour tingle 2 3 Wilderness Trail wheat

Glencairn 7

Nose: Clear bubblegum snowball, vanilla icing. 4

Palate: Sugar like icing, light coating. 4

Finish: Long finish with spicy linger. 3 3.67 Peerless bourbon

Glencairn 8

Nose: Light and airy, mint tea 3

Palate: Rye spice, absinthe or heavy licorice 3

Finish: Lingering spice with full finish 4 3.33 The Deuce

Glencairn 9

Nose: Bubblegum, brown sugar, fruit salad. 3

Palate: Light, whip cream on a sundae, vanilla ice cream. 4

Finish: Full, smooth, little tingle. 3

3.33 4 Roses Single Barrel OBSF

Glencairn 10

Nose: Corn, vanilla 3

Palate: Light and smooth, vanilla, beignets 4

Finish: Light coating, easy finish no burn. 4 3.67 Old Forester Single Barrel Vsofbp

So, everything lined out somewhere between a 3 and 4. Not that I should be trusted, but this makes a bit of sense seeing that barrel picks aren’t normally of the exceptional stuff, however the people picking these know what they’re doing. Rating the lower proof Whistlepigs highest sounds about right as I’ve found myself gravitating toward ryes recently, and proof still hurts my baby boy palate. I’m actually surprised that a lot of what I rated aligned very well with my own personal taste, however, scoring the Peerless rye so low was a shocker. I’m a huge fanboy of their single barrels, but this one just didn’t do it for me. I have another pick waiting for after this bottle kill, though; it’s just so hard to live up to the Butterscotch Brisket of last year.

I won’t comment on what my initial guesses were in this semi-blind tasting. Not that I’m embarrassed but none of them were right. I can tell the difference between ryes and bourbons though, so bonus.

This was a great exercise for me. There was a pizza delivered about halfway through, so results cannot and will not be replicated. Honestly though, I plan to do some bottle killing before I get another opportunity – can’t wait to drink all of this stuff, and 10 semi-blind pours may be a little much for one sitting, though pictures do impress your friends.

Buy those Nola Bourbonfest bottles. Stay in tuned with the rescheduling of Nola Bourbonfest. Go to Bourbonfest. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

- Tyler

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