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Water of Life - Chief’s Son Distiller’s Select and Bourbon Brothers’ December box

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

If you have been following this series attentively or, even better, have had the fortunate of sampling a dram from the vibrant, family owned small batch Chief’s Son distillery, there is a high likelihood that you have been waiting with baited breath for their 2021 incarnation of their much fabled about Distiller’s Select series: An annual, limited and coveted release in nature, this hand selected release is by many considered to be the watermark of what has been achieved in terms of exciting and new styles in the respective year.

This year’s release clocks in at 47.5% ABV and is a truly special expression as it is derived from the exquisite base that has matured in Chief’s Son’s richest French Oak ex-Apera barrels, before having been further refined with a range of 20 liter casks.

Clear yet viscous in appearance and mahogany in colour, what tickles the nostrils upon approach is a complex mélange of roasted coffee beans, honeyed maple syrup and caramelly marzipan notes, backed by a subtle hint of tobacco.

On the palate, a bold and rich avalanche of flavours unleashes its powers with malty oak highlights, which set the stage for cidery, citrussy and pop rocks nuances to dance and intertwine with roasted nuts and toffee.

The elongated finish reverberates with exceptionally more-ish and Pavlovian response evoking marmalade flavours, which with the piquancy courtesy of the old oak flavours leaves one lusting for another dram.

I have yet to taste an underwhelming drop from the Mornington Peninsula and this year’s Distiller’s Select expression is another example par excellence for Chief’s Son pushing the envelope in terms of depth of flavours without ever running danger of diluting its DNA.

Bourbon Brothers – December Subscription Box

I find subscription boxes to sometimes be hit and miss in that it is nice to receive curated samples, which offer the opportunity to discover an expression or even distillery I normally would not have gotten my mitts on, but quite often I find lacking in the “bang for the buck” department.

Then there are subscription services like Bourbon Brothers.

As the name suggests, the focus is firmly set on Bourbon, which is a territory I am fond of yet not one where my top ten drops are located in. This is where Bourbon Brothers comes to the rescue as I have yet to come across one of their variety pack subscription boxes that makes me not rejoice in the discovery in a drop that makes me take not and seek out to get a whole bottle of.

The fact that the samples come not only with obligatory tasting notes and flavour profiles (including links to exclusive tasting videos), neatly and securely packaged but most importantly in generous trios of100ml bottles, makes it a curated delivery service both a novice and Bourbon connoisseur will be bound to forward to every month.

While Bourbon Brothers delivers on a monthly service, they have knocked it out of the park with their beautifully presented end-of-year December box as it contains the equivalent of Bourbon porn:

I popped the Barrel Bourbon Blend #D01K straight after the box materialized and I was in for a treat: Being one of only forty-nine micro-blends made in the first ever series of Barrell Bourbon Private Release Bourbon, the nostril are tickled with dominant nutmeg notes, backed by dark cherry nuances that are pervaded by subtle hints of vanilla, seamlessly transitioning in a medium-bodied and oily manner to balanced notes of toffee, walnut and caramel on the palate. The long finish culminates in notes of toasted oak, cinnamon and a hint of deep plum preserves. Delicious.

Next up was the Bulleit Bourbon, the aromas of which reeled me in with strong scents of oak, rye and the faintest trace of smokiness.

As the name suggests, Bulleit does not lack impact on the top of the mouth. What starts with darkly sweet notes and layers of woodiness and acidity, quickly transitions to targeted shots of a pronounced bold spicy oakiness.

The lingering finish continues of the spicy oak trail, interweaved with butterscotch and dark fruity notes. A memorable sipper thanks to its deep and complex flavour profile.

The last component of Bourbon Brothers' December box is another discovery for me, i.e. Old Virginia: Despite clocking in a comparatively tame 40% ABV, this baby hits big with a strong ethanol note that is flanked by cidery, oaky and burnt toffee notes.

On the palate, honeyed decadence is the name of the game as syrupy flavours play the claviature from dark chocolate to crème brulee, with the finish rounding things out beautifully with a reverberating oakiness.

Cannot wait to see what Bourbon Brother’s has got in store for 2022...

December 2, 2021

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