Bourbon Tales - part 2
Back by popular demand we bring you more exciting tales from the bourbon world....
The tale surrounding this bourbon is with the actual naming of it. Heaven Hill acquired the Old Fitzgerald franchise in 1999 and released this wheated bourbon in ‘honour’ of John E Fitzgerald. According to legend, Mr Fitzgerald built the distillery and sold his bourbon to local establishments. Now here is the twist - in the family biography of Pappy Van Winkle written by his granddaughter Sally Van Winkle Campbell, it is revealed that Fitzgerald was not the character he was purported to be. He was in fact a treasury agent who used his keys to the warehouse to half-inch (pinch) the best bourbon and sold it on under the name of Old Fitzgerald. In ‘honour’ of the pilferer, Heaven Hill was inspired to release the bourbon called Larceny.
As far as we know the mash bill is not officially released and there are various guesses out there on what the breakdown is. Most agree that the wheat percentage is at least 20%. According to the official website, Larceny has been hand selected by the Master Distillers to have a taste profile of a 6 year old bourbon (We’re not sure exactly what that is supposed to mean as there is no age statement on the label). Many bloggers declare that the ages of the barrels which go into each batch (less than 100 barrels) are between 6 and 12 years of age.
Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company
No bones about it, there are many folks out there who were not at all happy with this company and the lack of transparency in what they originally released. Conceived by Diageo in 2013, the company wanted to rescue and share collections of ‘almost’ lost barrels which were maturing in the Stitzel-Weller distillery. Note the wording there, 'maturing' in the Stitzel-Weller distillery but not actually being made there. The entire range is hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee, at the George Dickel bottling plant.
How anyone manages to ‘almost’ lose barrels of whiskey is also quite difficult to imagine. The whole marketing story is really what irked people here and not releasing to the consumers the origins of the whiskey. Over time this has changed and Diageo have become more open on the origin of the whiskies, and have even released the mash bills. What are still not fully understood are the quantities available with each different release. The Orphan Barrel website suggests small offerings of each whiskey, but some bottle numbers are in their tens of thousands (which even with the best will in the world isn't exactly small). Whether or not the product is any good is the same for all whiskey, a purely personal opinion. If you do have a few hundred pounds to spare take a chance of what Orphan Barrel has to offer.
Forged Oak – 15 years – 45.25% ABV
Lost Prophet – 22 years – 45.05% ABV
Barterhouse – 20 years – 45.1% ABV
Rhetoric – 22 years – 45.2% ABV
Gifted Horse – 17 years – 57.5% ABV
Whoop & Holler – 28 years – 44% ABV (Not listed on the official website)
Old Blowhard – 26 years – 45.05% ABV (Now retired)
Colonel EH Taylor Junior
As most bourbon aficionados already know, where the barrel ages in the warehouse has a significant impact on the end finish and taste profile. In 2006 there were 24,000 barrels minding their own business and sat in Warehouse C at the Buffalo Trace distillery that experienced a very unique ageing process as a result of a natural disaster. A tornado swept through Kentucky ripping the roof off the warehouse and causing significant damage to the bricked north wall. The top two levels of barrels were exposed to the summer sun and natural elements whilst the warehouse was under lengthy repairs.
Almost 100 of these top level barrels aged between 9 and 12 years were bottled in 2011 as a small batch at 50% ABV and released as a once in a lifetime offering. Labelled as Colonel EH Taylor Jnr Warehouse C Tornado Survivor and originally priced at $75 it is surprisingly still available today but you do have to spend a considerable amount of more money, £1,975 to be precise.
We like this story but we smell a high bullshit factor on this one.
In 1984 Blanton's became the first ever commercially sold single barrel bourbon. Blanton's is named after one of the distilleries early pioneers Albert B Blanton who was affectionately known as Colonel Blanton (everyone in Kentucky is a Colonel it seems) as he held the honorary title of Kentucky Colonel.
The story goes that Blanton was a great host and would always serve what he considered to be the finest bourbon to his guests. This bourbon was picked out from the middle of Warehouse H as he considered this section to be the sweet spot. His former apprentice, Elmer T Lee (yes that one) turned this concept into reality when he was tasked to continue selecting only the finest barrels from Warehouse H and releasing it to the general public.
Today there are four different expressions available. The Original Single Barrel is the most recognised and widely available Blanton’s. The Gold Edition alongside Special Reserve (green label and promoted as the introductory edition) and Straight From The Barrel (SFTB) are only available outside of the US and in duty free organisations.
The bottle shape is very unusual and almost looks like a hand grenade. Since 1999 the horse and jockey stoppers are now the unique trademark of the brand and form a set of 8. Each one features a horse and jockey in different racing poses. Each stopper also depicts a different letter and once all are collected you can spell out BLANTONS. Mav is the proud owner of one of these and quite lovely it is too!