Friday, July 04, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #305


A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16yo
Bourbon Whiskey
45.5% abv

£80
$190 (USD)

As it is July 4, I thought I would taste an American whiskey. I really have not done the due exploration that this whole realm of spirit deserves. I hope to in time now that I am an Alien of Extraordinary Ability residing in the U S of A.

Yeah, America starts with the letter A (the theme of the past week of drams), and so does this bourbon. Distilled in 1974 at the now closed Michter's distillery in Schaefferstown, Virginia, and dedicated to one of the very few men named Adolf worthy of our admiration, Hirsch 16yo is, their website tells us, "the oldest available bourbon made from the time honored pot still tradition."

Quite a great history to the distillery and its craftsmen, too. Go read more HERE. Or HERE. And do NOT confuse this drop with Hirsch Canadian whisky. Speaking of which, why does the bourbon suck so bad at the LCBO? That's not very neighbourly, eh?

This drop is considered by many to be the epitome of bourbon and each remaining bottle represents a sort of time capsule of a craftsmanship in American Whiskey making that, arguably, remains unparalleled today. There have been three bottlings of this expressions (as well as a 20 year old version), and once this batch is gone, that'll be the end of this baby.

Happy Independence Day, or whatever one says on the 4th of July. Don't be stupid around fireworks or booze and motor vehicles.

TASTING NOTES:

Stewed fruits. Honey or no, maple syrup. Perhaps even maple itself, woody. Vanilla and oak with a pleasant bitterness like orange peel and rye.

Wow, strange, and somehow mouthwatering. Juicy like fruitella or something. Grapefruit, but the gentlest pink assortment. Crispy underbelly of sugary cookies. Slightly minty now. The flavours turn and turn in your mouth. Real flavourwheel stuff.

SUMMARY:

A warm and warming bowl of flavours in wonderful balance, a liquid whose aromas are synchro swimming in the pool of my perceptions. Really, quite beautiful. As with most bourbons, and maybe this what makes me a barley spirit addict, the palate pulls too much in the direction of oak and drying tannins. Here however the experience is saved by a gorgeous mouthfeel and flavour development combination that really softens that effect. I read a turn of phrase I really liked in another tasting note online, "explodes with the force of a mouses sneeze." While I never experienced an explosion as such, the flavours turned and moved against my senses like a wind-blown salsola/tumbleweed, that iconic image from a western movie. Now there's that bit of Americana I was digging for to close this paragraph.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

they say happy birthday to me on the 4th. did you read that all the remaining stocks of hirsch have been bought back? only 200 bts or so i think.


colin

tf @ TWE said...

It's 900 bottles and they are repackaging them in handblown bottles blah blah etc so that they can justify charging about a grand per bottle for the last ever stocks. Scoop it up while you can before the marketing BS takes over.