Before departing on the virtual whiskey vacation, I'm going to start right here in my own backyard so to speak. Well, actually Kentucky could be my backyard since at one point, it was part of Virginia. I digress. My whiskey introduction started with bourbon many, many years ago and my love of bourbon and rye grew exponentially. My goal is to select an example of good American whiskey that can still be found on retail shelves but also is not a run of the mill, mass produced expression. I wanted an American whiskey that exhibited a degree of quality, craftsmanship and uniqueness. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year "Lot B" is a bourbon I've kept in my bunker for many years. To me, it stands out as an above average pour and is unique in its flavor profile as one of its flavoring grains is wheat versus rye, it's moderately aged and is proofed at an easy 90.4.
Color: Dark golden honey with hues of orange
Nose: Caramel, baking spices like cinnamon and cloves, oak
Entry: Sweet with baking spices, tinges of leather and mildly tannic
Finish: Sweetness diminishes with leather and mild char coming through at the end. Moderately long finish
This is not a big bruiser of a bourbon. Its cousin Pappy 15 (one of my favorites) is aged 3 additional years and has about 17 extra proof points on it. The Lot B is more refined and approachable; almost encouraging the drinker to take another sip, and yet another. This is a very pleasing bourbon with no off notes. I wouldn't say this is widely available, but shouldn't be too difficult to find. My only criticism is the price which here in my area runs $50.
Name: Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 year "Lot B"
Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, KY
Size: 750ml bottle with cork stopper
Next up, I'll be travelling to Canada (ok, not really) and we'll be trying a whisky that is actually bottled here in the U.S. but is pure Canadian Rye.