Nose – Caramel, fruit, & honey with some vanilla (pretty standard bourbon profile). Overall it’s pretty light, but a lot of swirling opens up a touch of something like praline. A sweet wheat bread with a touch of corn shows a bit of youth.
Taste – The mouthfeel is just alright. Nothing wrong, but it’s not standing out. Sweet vanilla and a touch of…maybe a light brown sugar. Honey-esque. The 96 proof points actually shine here, as sometimes a younger bourbon without any heat can seem almost bland…this stands up a bit more.
Finish – The finish isn’t very long or complex, but there’s a good sweetness that makes it enjoyable, albeit brief. I can get the impression that this would really come into it’s own with a bit more time in the barrel.
Cabernet Sauvignon Finish
Nose – Dark caramel and rich red fruits. Quite fruity indeed. The toasty wheat is still there for me, in a nice way, and it’s interesting how the spice from the high-rye portion of the mash is totally non-existent here. It’s starting to remind me of some buttered homemade wheat bread with jam on it. I wouldn’t say it smells quite the same, just that it reminds me of that.
Taste – Pretty rich on the palate as well. Really nice fruit profile here without coming across the palate like wine. I feel like I catch some of the rye spice here on the sides, but it isn’t a lingering spice. It’s also playing second fiddle to the fruit and darker caramel.
Finish – This is a longer finish than the straight bourbon; however I’d call it medium. Again I’m catching a touch of that rye, but the finish is more fruity than anything else. A pretty good take on a wine finished product.
French Oak Finish
Nose – This seems to be the most complex on the nose. Mocha, maybe even toffee working in here. The oak is evident, and I dig it. The oak is really doing a good job of making this product feel more mature right off the bat.
Taste – Slightly thinner mouthfeel on this, but not off-putting. Just notable in comparison to the other two products. The heat is evident more as it couples with a nice punch of spice, but it’s well within it’s lane. This is lightly sweet, and in a more vanilla and oak influenced way. Again I catch that cocoa or mocha note as the rye spice stands up to say hi.
Finish – I think the flavors are sticking around a lot more here. The finish is the longest of the three. As the toffee and chocolate notes fade there’s a prominent Madagascar vanilla note that slowly gives way to oak and rye spice. That spice is doing it for me, too. While the finish is oaky and spicy–I wouldn’t say it’s drying or astringent. The best finish of the three products I’d say.