The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2012

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Page 26 of 140

Forgotten Brands O ver the past fi ve years, new whiskey brands have been popping up like fl ies around a fermenter. Suddenly, these small craft whiskeys are in vogue and winning over legions of consumers. But let's not forget about the smaller brands made by big produc- ers. That's right, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill and Buffalo Trace, as well as many other big boys, make lesser-known whiskies still deserving of a little shelf space. At lower price points, too, these brands could make profi table well spirits on-premise. Old Bardstown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 86 Proof Named after the famous town in Nelson County, Kentucky, Old Bardstown looks, smells and tastes like a whiskey that could compete for shelf space with any of the major entry brands. Its nose of pralines, oak, vanilla and caramel complements pepper, corn and tannins on the palate. The fi nish is dry with a touch of sweet caramel. I love this whiskey on the rocks and for all the usual cocktails. Made by the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Old Bardstown 86 Proof retails under $15. The label offers expres- sions at 80, 90 and 101 proof, too. Very Old Barton Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 86 Proof With a soft caramel color, this inexpensive whiskey hits the nose with vanilla, caramel and oak, with just a hint of grandma's french toast. The heat warms a medium- bodied palate with notes of oak and vanilla with some nice rye spice. Made by Buffalo Trace and marketed by the Sazerac Company, Very Old Barton sells in the $12 range at retail. It makes wonderful whiskey cocktails. 26 / the tasting panel / october 2012 FOR PROFITABILITY, DON'T OVERLOOK THESE LOW-PROFILE BOURBONS Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 80 Proof Light straw color with a nose of sweet corn and candied yams, a palate of raw grains and sugar cane, this sour mash bourbon is aged at least three years in new oak. With very little bite and a smooth fi nish, Old Crow was once America's number- one-selling bourbon and before Prohibition was even the main target for radical temperance leader Carry Nation. Referring to the whiskey, Nation said a crow "would not touch a drop of this slop." Apparently, she didn't know the whiskey was named after Dr. James Crow, who revolutionized whiskey-making practices, not for the bird. Made by Jim Beam, Old Crow sells anywhere from $5 to $7. J.T.S. Brown Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – 80 Proof At fi rst look, this lighter color whiskey does not seem it will impress. Neither does the corn- centric nose. But that's the thing about this whiskey: It's packing a lovely taste, well balanced between sweet and spice. It's also carrying a bit of unique history. J.T.S. Brown was George Garvin Brown's original company. He went on to found Brown-Forman, which of course is a large publicly traded spirits company that owns a brand called Jack Daniels. Today, the J.T.S. Brown label is owned by Heaven Hill and sells for less than $8. There's also a 100-proof version that's a hidden gem. Anybody drinking J.T.S should know that Paul Newman enjoyed it in The Hustler. So if you're looking for a way to add a little movie trivia to your menu, this is a nice bourbon to add to the bar.

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