Whiskey Name: Belle Meade 10 years old Single Barrel (No. 2003)
Distillery: Brand owned by Green Brier, whiskey distilled at MGPI
Whiskey Type: Straight bourbon
Release Date: 2016 presumably...
Price: $59.99 (Price in £ as of Nov 2017 £45)
Age: Take a wild guess
Mashbill: 64% corn, 30% rye, 6% malted barley
Introduction/Background: Another day, another whiskey we don’t see East of the Atlantic. This one is bottled by Nelson’s Green Brier distillery, in Nashville Tennessee. They’ve headed North to source their whiskey; to the MGP distillery in Indiana, birthplace of so much of the non-distillery-produced bottling. Green Brier are pretty open about MGP being their ‘dealers’ though, so no complaints here.
Single barrel, cask strength, 10 years old. Lots of good augurs, not much more to say.
Appearance: Deep, dark mahogany.
Nose: Oh now. That’s a lovely nose. Crackling away with spicy rye. Cinnamon and nutmeg lead, but there’s a lot of depth here too. Clove, fruitcake, black cherries and smoky BBQ sauce. Nutty almonds express themselves in a sweet way; I’m thinking marzipan, maybe even a touch of Amaretto. (I had a load of (pseudo-involuntary) amaretto the day before tasting, so possibly that’s just on my mind...) Alcohol jabs, but doesn’t go for a knockout.. Oak shows through with walnut, sawn wood and black pepper.
Mouth: Palate just as lovely, and a little sweeter. Dark chocolate, muscovado and tonnes of caramel. Bit more black cherry, but sweet, like jam, rather than too tart. Rye pierces through with black pepper, anise, and more of those Christmassy spices. (We’re into November now – Christmas comparisons are officially legal again). That high-rye core keeps the body medium (+) rather than especially viscous.
Finish: Corn is more of a presence at this point. Corn oil and caramel popcorn.
Value for Money: Yep.
Summary: I’ve been pretty clear in my general preference for whiskies to be vatted, rather than single barrel. But that’s mostly to do with cerebral admiration of the art of the blender.
Pours like this one are a reminder that single barrels, bottled at just the right time, are pretty hard to beat when it comes down to sheer flavour. Brilliantly made and brilliantly chosen stuff. Delicious.
Overall Verdict: If you find yourself Stateside, you know what to do.