I’ll be honest, I just didn’t have as much time and energy this month to plan a fun theme and pick bourbon that was related. I didn’t have time to research whiskeys that I haven’t tried yet either. I’m in the last semester of my MBA, working hard on term papers that I’m using at work, and I have a newborn. So, in lieu of a theme, I decided to just pick whatever fit into the budget when I went into the liquor store.

As it turns out, I was able to get some of my favorite whiskeys. I even decided to give a European spirit a chance since most of our attendees had only had scotch or Jameson. Jameson, in my opinion, might as well be the Irish equivalent of Jack Daniel’s and I wanted my friends to know what a good Irish whiskey tasted like.

This month started as ‘no theme month’ and became ‘prestige month’ because these are 3 of my favorite whiskeys. Here’s what we thought of it all.

Redbreast 12 Irish Whiskey – Overall – 7.5/10 – burn – 4.33/10

(Specs) 12 year aged | 40% or 80 proof | 750 ML $61.95

(Distiller) Midleton Distillery, Midleton, Co. Cork Ireland

(Notes) The only thing mentioned twice was the woody, earthy nature of this whiskey. Notes included green apple, grassy, sherry, rain, mineral, copper, buttery, sweet, and reminiscent of a campsite.

(Finish) The only thing that stood out for the finish is that it was clean and brief. It didn’t tend to linger, but it did have the same complexity as the initial tastes.

I.W. Harper – Overall – 7.6/10 – burn – 3.8/10

(Specs) N/A | 41% or 82 proof | 750 ML $34.95

(Mash Bill) 73% corn, 18% rye, 9% barley

(Distiller)  I.W. HARPER Distilling Company, Tullahoma, TN

(Notes)  There were 2 big takeaways from this tasting in particular. The first was that compared to bourbon, even an Irish whiskey we loved pales in comparison because the flavor of bourbon is so much more bold. Drinking I.W. Harper right after Redbreast 12 made the Irish whiskey seem bland. This isn’t to say Readbreast 12 is bad. In fact, we really liked it. It’s just very, very different.

The second takeaway was that I.W. Harper is ‘exactly bourbon’. We all had notes, but they describe bourbon at the most basic level. If you are looking to set an expectation for what a bourbon should be without the complexity and added noise that causes debate between those with different pallets, this is the one. I.W. Harper is just bourbon, and it’s beautiful.

That being said, here are notes with annotation for how many times it was stated among 6 tasters – (5) caramel, (4) oak (3) vanilla (3) apple (3) clean (3) smooth (2) mint

(Finish) The aftertaste is basically non-existent. There is no real lingering sensation or taste. Once you drink it, it’s gone.

Blanton’s – Overall – 8.8/10 – burn – 5.8/10

(Specs)  | 46% or 93 proof | 750 ML $59.95

(Distiller) Blanton’s Distilling Co., Frankfort, Kentucky

(Notes) Blanton’s is my favorite. Not a single person at our club had a single bad thing to say about it. It is a complex whiskey with flavors that change from the moment you sip it out of your glass to the moment you exhale after swallowing it. Everyone had similar but different notes. Here are some of the flavors we picked out –

anise, brown sugar, basil, thyme, rose, powdered sugar, black cherry, sweet tea, maraschino cherry, Bavarian doughnut

(Aftertaste) This one definitely sits on your pallet a bit longer. All the tasters agree that the lingering sensation is that of the burnt cask the liquid is aged in. There were mentions of smoke, spiciness, and brick chimneys.


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