...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

WTF Is This? Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon, batch 2 (and also a rant)

What this is is expensive.  Priced between $190 and $250 and without an official listed age statement (though I've seen unconfirmed rumors of 3 to 6 years), this batch is cheaper than the first round.  The first batch cost $170 for a 375mL bottle.  Clearly this is for oil barons who want to show some Lone Star pride, or for Vladimir Putin to swig while he's sumo wrestling a water buffalo.

From what I gather it is legitimately distilled in Texas.  And they are calling it "bourbon" rather than going for the whole Texas Whiskey type thing like Balcones.  My good whiskey friend Linda (who is of course an oil baroness), shared this sample with me.  She mentioned that it fit the "weirdest damned thing in your collection" description from my Dram Quest.  When then I saw the whiskey's ABV, I knew it was time for the belt buckle.

Distillery: Garrison Brothers
Brand: Cowboy Bourbon
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
RegionBardstown, Kentucky (Distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana)
Age: 3? 4? 5? 6? years?
Batch: 2
Limited release: 5,200
Alcohol by volume: 67.5%

There's a lot of cherry and crimson in its color, much like many of Balcones's whiskies.  But, you know those Texans.  A buncha Reds.

The oak reads more toasty than charred in the nose, actually.  There's also dried cherries, clay, rubber, and sesame seeds.  Cinnamon gum and vanilla.  A green wood note appears after a while.

The palate is cinnamon, cinnamon, cinnamon.  Very sweet, all spirit with some burnt wood.  A smaller note of mint extract.  It's not as hot as expected, though.

It finishes with cinnamon and chili oil.  Something acidic.  Some vanilla and woody tannins.

The nose is mostly wood.  Pulp, sawdust, and vanilla.  Then cinnamon, sesame seeds, and clay.  Finally, turpentine.

The palate is a weird mix of sour and sweet, like white vinegar in Goldschlager.

It finishes with cinnamon, vanilla, and sweat (not sweet).

The nose is maple syrup, sawdust, and vanilla.

The palate is mostly sugar and cinnamon, but it's very drying.

Just heat and wood in the finish.

Just what we were all looking for, Barrel Proof Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.

Firstly, go Texan and leave water out of this thing.  The nose is very entertaining and holds some promise......then breaks that promise when you taste the whiskey.  It's a huge hit of barely matured spirit + loads of wood.  So most of you have been to this dance before.  Though this time it costs $200.

It's products like this and Hudson Four Grain Bourbon, and the lame ploys by the big boys like Jim Beam Single Barrel (which only exists to get you to pay $30 for $8 whiskey), and all the misinformation passing as truth in products like Templeton Rye and Gifted Horse, that lead some readers (on Twitter and in his comment section) to wonder if Chuck Cowdery had intended parody when he wrote that we are currently in "The Golden Age of American Whiskey".  Where he sees the wide variety of shelf after shelf after shelf of bourbon brands as a big free market full of wonderful, I don't.

Yes, this is a very exciting time to be an American whiskey producer, possibly the most exciting time.  But for customers, more does not equal better.  The mediocrity quotient is so very high right now, as is its price.  I have stopped drinking "craft" whiskeys (other than this one due to its potential weirdness quotient) because most of them taste less than half-baked.  I need to save my liver for when (or if) they're allowed to fully bake.  And I also do not want to promote the majority of what I see on the big shelves, which is <2yo whiskey selling for >$40.  Once the market actually does what a market does and distills down the brands who turn out whiskey too early at an inflated price, then we may see a great bourbon era.  Great for the drinkers, that is.  There are going to be a lot of sad investors who bought in at the top and sadder owners of crushed small businesses, just like there are after every bubble bursts.

But none of this explains why this whiskey costs $200.

Availability - A few dozen specialty liquor retailers still have it
Pricing - Nearly two cases of Old Grand Dad 114
Rating - 72