The New Orleans Bourbon Festival just released two more bourbon barrels, these being rye recipe bourbons from Wilderness Trail. Both have the same mashbill: 64% corn, 24% rye, and 12% malted barley, fermented using the sweet mash process and barrelled at 110 proof, and then bottled at cask strength. Both were $58.
Barrel No. 17E09-10, 110 proof, aged four years and one month: Beautiful amber color, nice film and legs on the swirl. Lots of caramel on the nose. On the palate, lots of caramel, dark jammy fruit, rye spice, herbal rye, and some baking spice. Lingering finish. The rye on this is super assertive; if you are a fan of high rye bourbons such as Blanton’s and Old Grand Dad, this is definitely worth picking up.
Barrel No. 17D25-6, 112 proof, aged four years and two months: Again, beautiful amber, but this has a little mahogany on the color. Very oily with thick legs on the swirl. Lots of caramel but with a bit of Caribbean vanilla on the nose. The vanilla gets more assertive on the palate and is really great, and the rye is much less pronounced on this one. This is followed by wonderful clove, baking spice, and oak notes that continue on into the lingering finish. This is a sip this neat by the fire sort of bourbon. I really like this one.
But, what blows me away is how two barrels, same mashbill, about the same age, same barrel char, same rickhouse, could be so very different. Yes, slight differences in ambient humidity and temperature in the rickhouse and even one month of additional aging can totally change the character of a bourbon. But one thing is for sure – the New Orleans Bourbon Festival continues to pick honey barrels of bourbon from Wilderness Trail, and if you see one of their picks in a liquor store definitely pick it up.