Some Taste Notes Including For A Fine Bourbon

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A very fresh can of the Barca stand-by, Estrella Damm, under eight weeks from packaging working back from the best-by date.

While an adjunct brew, it has a full and beery taste – nothing retiring about it. However, it has a noticeable dimethyl sulphide note (DMS) in my opinion, which tends to colour the character of the beer, much as yeast can do when prominent in the finished product.

This is a traditional blonde lager profile – one of them – but not to my liking. I left the glass shown on the counter with a small plate on top and the remainder of the beer still in the can. Tonight I’ll try it again, or maybe even tomorrow night. The DMS may lift off, as has occurred in other similar situations. Otherwise I’ll blend it, probably with a strong stout. Some carbonation will escape of course but surprisingly little if the glass and can aren’t disturbed. Also, losing 30%-40% carbonation is actually an improvement to most beer.

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It’s a cliché to say it, but this German Red Ale is one of the best beers I’ve ever had. It has a clean but very flavourful malt richness and sturdy but not dominating (as appropriate) hop character. I think Perle and Magnum hops are used. The label says Altbier style and it is exactly that, made in St-Eustache, Quebec by Brasseurs Illimités.  I had a sticke Altbier once from Dusseldorf, Zum Uerige’s, flown in a wood keg to a fest in Baltimore, MD some years back. Brasseurs Illimités’ version is very similar.

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An abbey classic from Belgium, rich-flavoured and faultless in authenticity. It’s made by Moortgat, which holds the licence from the Benedictines of the abbey where the recipe was originated. This is Maredsous 8, 8% abv, the dubbel. I’d guess it is flash-pasteurized for export but am not sure. It’s got that fruity background typical of good Belgian beer but that Belgian yeast gets up my nose. I find if I drink it and don’t “think” about it, it tastes much better. Voilà!

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Tasted at a LCBO tasting counter, Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve, 120 proof (60% abv). From the bourbon powerhouse which is Beam Suntory in Clermont, KY. I added enough water to bring it to about 40% abv. What a whiskey! Very full and rich, elegant, everything in the right place. People say some bourbon is like good Cognac, often an exaggeration but in this case fully justified. I don’t mean to say bourbon isn’t as valid a spirit as good brandy. But it is rare in my experience that you can sip a bourbon neat and get perceptions similar to good Cognac such as softness, a velvet quality, and refined taste.

This bottle bears a nine year age statement, the Knob Creek standard unless it has changed lately. Yet, the whiskey in the current single barrel bottlings is a few years older than that. A little birdie told me, plus it tastes more matured than regular Knob Creek. The regular-issue stuff is hardly to be disdained, but this 120 proof version is the bee’s knees. The barrel birthed something real special here, folks.

The trademark yeast/anise flavour of Beam-recipe bourbon is completely absent. Presumably, extra aging and/or barrel selection resulted in a different profile. They should do this for the regular Knob Creek.

Finally, don’t try to drink it neat and be a he-man. High proof bourbon, even at 100 proof let alone 120 proof, was almost never drunk that way in the classic era of bourbon, say 1840s-1990s. It was mixed in cocktails or drunk with ice and water. Sometimes it was drunk neat, but not at 120 proof. More typically this would have been at 80-90 proof, or 40-45% abv.

Getting 120 proof simply means you are getting a better value – more alcohol – it’s not an invitation to drink it straight at that proof. Take a micro-sip just to see what it’s like, if you wish. Otherwise, adjust it so it’s like a standard bottle in proof (80-100). Not only will it taste in your drinks as it should, you are in effect saving 20% or more off the sticker price – itself quite reasonable for a bourbon of this, er, caliber.

2 thoughts on “Some Taste Notes Including For A Fine Bourbon

  1. Gary.
    Superb notes as usual.
    Is that Ale Rousse really one of the best you’ve ever (ever?) tasted. That’s saying a lot. How are the other offerings from this brewery?
    That KC sounds superb. I’m assuming this is a new product……?
    Alan.

    • One of the best, definitely. I reserve that for beer which is very true to style and has a very superlative flavour. There aren’t that many in my experience which meet that test. I’ve had some others in their range but this is the best.

      The single barrel of KC has been around for a few years. Initial bottles were like regular KC just stronger but the current bottlings are a game-changer IMO.

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