Honey Pie: USA Old & Rare, Part 2/2

Following on from Part 1/2, here’s Part 2 of my WLP-idiosyncratic/random look at O&R whiskey from the USA via a haul of American whiskey miniatures I bought at auction in March 2016 [WA] – many of which derive from the 1970/80s.

Honey Pie: Will the wind that blew her boat across the sea, kindly send her sailing back to me? Tee, tee, tee‘. Let’s see if we can sail a little better today.

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Jessie James 6yo Ob. Kentucky Rare De Luxe Straight Bourbon Whiskey 40% [5cl] WB64[1]

We begin this second session with what initially appears to be the softest of the flight, as well as the lowest, abv-wise.

  • N: Starting very light indeed, it takes at least an hour to open up. Plasticy,… wood glue/Blu-tac,… [a hint of] violets?,… hot cross buns, bins in a scorching-hot alley in Spain [Ashley] ~ a cabbage-y fustiness,…
  • T: Though not as underpowered as expected, we’ve [still] a soft, iffy-sweet, soft-plastic-y, grease=WD40 [bike workshop] arrival, with a waxy wood spiciness rumbling underneath thereafter.
  • F: A little dusty with very fine peppery > nutmeg-y/nondescript spicy heat, becoming greasy-dry and sooty at the death with something of mezcal – though perhaps that’s to do with some deterioration in the glass?
  • C: Meh,… s’ok.

Scores 79 points

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Early Times 4yo [1980s] Ob. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Italian Import 86 proof/43% [4.7cl] [WB]85[2]

WF: ‘This is rather cheap, a brand by Brown-Forman that’s exported as ‘bourbon’, but sold as ‘Kentucky whisky’ in the US’.

  • N: All-American bourbon on buttered toffee, butterscotch, caramel, peanut butter, a touch of fruity-ish jelly beans, a hint of molasses – all with an industrial vail.
  • T: Industrial indeed, column-y/[vodka/rum-like] spirit-generic with a cardboard-y=breadiness, light grainy/cinnamon,… runny molasses [with only suggestions of butterscotch now].
  • F: Little to no finish, sharp dry side/roof of mouth-feel.
  • C: Not quite a sipper.

Scores a near miss

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Jim Beam White Label [+/-1970-80s] Ob. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Wolfgang Kneller German Import 86 proof/43% [5cl] [WB]0 [WF]81 

  • N: Plenty of sawdust, something meaty and fruity – duck a l’orange? Nah, more orange~cherry red wine-like hard boiled sweets, fruity cinnamon,.. varnish-y column still vibes, again.
  • T: A muddled/blended amalgamation of industrial fruity=pongy=woody all-sorts on arrival with more of a runny toffee journey, albeit short.
  • F: Woody/sawdusty,… and simply a little dusty.
  • C: The Johnnie Walker [choose your colour] of bourbon, perhaps?

Scores 79 points

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Old Grand-Dad [+/-1970-80s] Ob. Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Italian import [plastic cap] 86 proof [4.7cl] [WB]0 WF79 [WLP81] BBS

  • N: Potpourri rum-like banana~soft pond water-like/dunder vibes, some dry oiliness,…. and despite all this, there remains that blended genericness in keeping with our previous exhibits.
  • T: Softer arrival than expected. It chews ok if a little sharp, coupled with more [blend-y] murkiness.
  • F: Soft peppery and soft woody finish with a barley sugar-like conclusion.
  • C: Another product of scale. The nose, however, indicates greater potential.

Scores 76 points

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Largely devoid of sour or bitter notes, so far it’s been sweet & spice in the main with little that has touched more than the front and/or front sides of the palate. Let’s see if we can ramp things up a little with [what looks like] a more contemporary bottle from rightly popular Buffalo Trace.

Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky Ob. 45% [50ml] WB83[5]

  • N: Rum-like [a common thread], toasted sweetbreads, pancakes, agave syrup. All round, general quality is up.
  • T: Nicely rounded bourbon displaying bits of everything including a nuttiness,… We’ve even some notes hitting further back on the palate [the first of this line-up?], a [desirable] dry oakiness throughout, and a harmless building heat. 
  • F: A faithful hum of what’s gone,.. more agave syrup,… more ’roundness’, oak, little vanilla.
  • C: A decent all-rounder that covers more ground than its predecessors.

Scores 82 points

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One more then. Have I saved the best till last?

Wild Turkey 8yo [1992] Ob./Austin Nichols Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey [Italian Import] 101 proof/50.5% [1.6 oz] WB86[2]

This is an Austin Nichols Wild Turkey, the brand and distillery – previously known as the Boulevard Distillery – bought out by Pernod Ricard in 1980. Campari acquired all in 2009 [wiki].

  • N: Phew, we’ve got a bite! Buttery, creamy, some [fusty honeyed] depth,… cumin seeds, dry honeyed hessian, alluring faint bitters and light liquorice woody sugars.
  • T: Yep! Just the right abv punch and a cinnamon/aniseed~cachaca-wood[s] edginess. It travels as a creamy melted waxy soft squidgy acetone-ish spirit with sustained power.
  • F: Sustaining/potent oIliness and cinnamon-y woodiness.
  • C: Cask ageing of 8+ years and a significant bump up in abv can’t help but make this one stand out from the others. And, for a miniature bottled 29 years ago, what of bottle ageing?

Scores 84 points

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It’s been a bit of a struggle, but we got somewhere in the end.

With thanks to Ashley for her photography.

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END

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