May 3, 2020

Blind Sampling - Dustin Stone

In the spirit of Dixon Dedman's "Bourbon in Box" blind tasting challenge, I decided to get in on the fun. I picked a secret sample from my stash and gave it to Dustin. The rules were simple: walk me through your tasting notes and make a guess. It could have been any American Whiskey under the sun, so it was no easy task. Here's Dustin with his best guess.

Usually I'm not keen on showing my ignorance when it comes to blind tasting bourbon, but sometimes you're handed samples you just know are gonna be righteous. Considering the source of this sample is Mr. Pete Schmidt, it's a safe bet to take this risk. Every time I do a blind, I search my memory bank for relatable profiles. While the nose is very familiar, it's like a dream version of what I'm remembering without any of the faults, and not something I think I've ever owned.

Initial nose is super sweet and seems around 105-110 proof. Typically I associate this with MGP, and I was sure it was one of their house products: Ambassador, or another well aged MGP. I drifted though, it could also be a 12-14yr Knob Creek. Same cotton candy nose, but not quite the same toast. Way too Marshmallow-y for Willett and not near enough red hots, so WFE is out. This is either an MGP product, or something very well hand selected from Buffalo Trace. In my daily drinker category, I often place MGP above BT for sheer reliable drinkability. Not until I get into the higher end Trace bottlings (EHT Barrel Proof, certain picks, and BTAC) does Trace become vastly superior. That's what I was starting to feel from this pour. The signature Trace sharpness; it's there, it's just way more lux, more subtle. It's exactly what I look for in quality bourbon. And this tasted like a single barrel bourbon, not a rye, not even a blend, not a finished whiskey.

I poured glasses from distilleries I thought were the most relatable. On the table was a Knob Creek 14yr FWS Pick, EH Taylor 129.3 Barrel Proof and MGP's Ambassador 12yr. I do a lot of nosing. It's probably my favorite part of bourbon. So, I sat these next to the mystery pour, going back to each one in turn for comparison over the next half hour. The Knob Creek devolved quickly into Pickles, and the MGP just sort of dissipated but remained a great pour. **Sidenote, get yourself a bottle of Ambassador, it fits squarely well into the 100-200 category of reliable drinkers.

That left the EHTBP 129.3 for comparison and the closest match so far on the nose. I'm a huge fan of the 129.3, I think it's one of the best releases from Trace for 2019, but this mystery is a smooth criminal. If you told me this was an unreleased barrel strength Eagle Rare I would not be surprised. It's a luxury pour from top to bottom - very ER17 esque, but from the recent higher proof releases. Nosing it again is just torture, it's so good. If I am way wrong on this, I hope no one ever reads it but this has one of the best noses I've experienced this year. I would not be surprised to find out this is Eagle Rare 17, or at minimum a really bad ass store pick from the BT family of products. I just am not convinced its a straight Eagle Rare pick though. It's too special for that. The finish mirrors ER17 as well in how it just dissipates quickly, leaving you wanting more, but also not quite as quickly as the 17. Pete, did you just pour me OFC? Holy smokes what a nose! It really is getting better over time, and it's been open now for over a half hour. Not overly oily in the cheeks, which usually I do like, but this has a great balance. I'm sold. This is a quality pour, and I can only hope it's something we see in the group.

I pour some OFC 1993 for one final comparison. The OFC is a strange beast, it comes across to me just exactly like ER17 on the nose, with a very similar but longer lingering finish. This has some similar qualities, but enough differences to bring me down to earth again. So, what I've got here is somewhat of a cross between an ER17 2018 or 2019, or a very well selected EH Taylor. I'll take two please. And if this is our EHT Single Barrel pick, you guys have absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Excellent job Dustin! That was one amazing tasting journey. Drum roll please. Here's the big reveal: