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Monday, July 24, 2017

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Noah’s Mill

Noah’s Mill is the highest-proof and highest-shelf brand member of Willett’s “Small Batch Boutique Bourbon Collection,” which also includes Kentucky Vintage, Pure Kentucky, and Rowan’s Creek.  Before the Bourbon craze it was aged for 15 years, and while it lost that minimum age, most everyone except the age-statement purists agree that it has retained its high quality.  One distinguishing characteristic of Noah’s Mill is that it traditionally blended Bourbon using rye as the secondary grain with Bourbon using wheat as the secondary grain, although this four-grain approach may have ended recently.

Another interesting side-note is that Noah’s Mill is not labeled as “Straight” Bourbon Whiskey, instead using just “Bourbon Whiskey.”  Being able to use the word “Straight” is a badge of honor that every producer should use if it can do so legally.  Straight Bourbon Whiskey must first meet the federal regulations to be called “Bourbon”:  “whisky produced at not exceeding 160 proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, … and stored at not more than 125 proof in charred new oak containers…”, and bottled at no less than 40 percent ABV.  27 CFR § 5.22(b)(1); 27 CFR § 5.22(b).

Then, in addition, Bourbon “shall be further designated as ‘straight’” if it was “stored in the type of oak containers prescribed for a period of two years or more.”  27 CFR § 5.22(b)(1)(iii).  Under another federal regulation and TTB interpretation, no flavoring or coloring additives can be added to Bourbon or Straight Bourbon.  27 CFR § 5.23(a)(2).  A whiskey that is “Straight” can only include blends of straight whiskies of the same type produced in the same state.  27 CFR § 5.22(b)(1)(iii).  Of course, an age statement is optional for any Straight Bourbon Whiskey that is at least four years old.  27 CFR § 5.40(a).

The folks at Willett confirmed for me that Noah’s Mill qualifies as “Straight” Bourbon Whiskey but that it’s just not on the label.  Personally, I’d want to include this guarantee of compliance and purity, but the quality coming out of Willett is undeniable, and they’ve been successful, so I’ll just leave this as my 2 cents and defer to Drew and his family.

Bourbon:
Noah’s Mill Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Batch QBC 13-117
Batch QBC 15-11
Batch QBC 15-18

Distillery:
Undisclosed, but bottled by “Noah’s Mill Distilling Company,” which is an assumed name of Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd. (Willett), Bardstown, Kentucky, DSP-KY-78

Age:
No age statement, so the youngest Bourbon is guaranteed to be at least four years old.

ABV:
57.15% (114.3 proof)

Cost:
Usually around $50.00

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Golden amber with a red hue in the light.  The 2013 batch was slightly darker.

Nose:
Great aromas with a fair warning of the high proof.  Each of the three had distinct noses; 15-18 was the sharpest and most floral with candy sweetness, 15-11 was mellow with dark fruit and old barn, and 13-117 was more on the earthy side with old oak and cocoa.

Taste:
The high proof is somewhat masked by the complexity and the warm flavors like vanilla, toffee, and cocoa, transitioning to cinnamon, pepper, and oak.  Again, each batch had its distinguishing characteristics but overall similarities.  For instance, 15-11 has a fantastic malted chocolate note that was not in Batch 15-18, where it was replaced with more intense spice, corn grain, and cherry.  Batch 13-117, on the other hand, was the creamiest of the three, with mellow flavors of honey, dark cherry, plum, espresso, and rich caramel.  They all took a splash of water or ice very well.

Finish:
Great swelling, warming, oaky finishes with all of these batches.  Batch 15-11 had an oaky/caramel balance with a mint kicker.  After a quick burst of sugary candy on the finish, 15-18 gives way to pepper spice and oak.  And I really enjoyed the long, slow burn of 13-117 that harkened back to its earthy aromas and swell of rye spice.

Bottom Line

Noah’s Mill provides a lush, well-rounded Bourbon with distinct batch characteristics, but all in the same family.  It might be too hot for some people, but a splash of water or ice will both drop the ABV and the heat to a range that will appeal to a broader audience without sacrificing any of the flavor.  I highly recommend Noah’s Mill.

Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale:  3.5

The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Swill.  I might dump the bottle, but will probably save it for my guests who mix with Coke.
2 – Hits the minimum criteria, but given a choice, I’d rather have something else.
3 – Solid Bourbon with only minor shortcomings.  Glad to own and enjoy.
4 – Excellent Bourbon.  Need to be hyper-critical to find flaws.  I’m lucky to have this.
5 – Bourbon perfection.  I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.

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