Monthly Archives: June 2009

Hirsch Selection – Small Batch Reserve

Lost my camera again...apologies.

Lost my camera again...apologies.

The Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve is the cheaper offering of a Hirch Small Batch trio that includes a 25 year old and a 28 year old.  Given that the other two are $270 and $450, this is really the only one within the range of affordability.  I have yet to taste something worth that much, frankly.

This particular variation of Hirsch is not the most common when you run a Google search, returning mostly wine and liquor store listings.  What that implies is not clear, but usually there are a few more blog entries, a Wikipedia article, and an official website at the very least.  This one came up nearly empty.

Let’s get down to it.

Stats:

- $35

- 92 proof

- Made by ???

Presentation:

The Hirsch bottle is simple, steady, and not unlike the Russell’s Reserve Rye bottle.  The label’s background has faint script lettering from some supposed document singing the praises of the Hirsch bourbons.  It’s unclear exactly what the sentences are but they involve words like “…25 years…” and “…every drop!” so it must be something written by a marketing department.

Above the faded paean for Hirsch bourbon is a five-star logo, some red, white, and blue ribbons and the name.  Fairly straight forward over all.  The back is fille with some dull text from Preiss Imports, but otherwise doesn’t even attempt to follow the motifs of the front label.

Tasting:

Very clean on the nose.  There’s something bitter lingering there…tar?…algae?  Not entirely pleasant, but very muted as to be almost unoticable.

On the palate there’s a good bit of burned sugar, dark raspberry, over all pretty bright and with something salty in there.  Medium finish, but quite warm.

Over all:

There’s a decent amount going on here and it improves with a few drops of water.  That said, for the same price you could probably get something a little better.  It’s pretty clear that this little guy is trying to ride on the coat tails of his elder brothers, the 25 and 28 year olds.


Rebel Yell

Where to start with Rebel Yell?  How about with this picture from their website:

Picture 1…or this one:

Picture 2You have to give Rebel Yell credit for avoiding the usual bourbon stereotypes of old men with their heirloom recipes and magic touch.  Instead they’ve gone with a different motif, but stereotypical no less: the romanticized (Southern) Male Outcast figure.  The Rebel Yell website is festooned with these tropes and often ends up focusing on this ‘rebel’ image more than the whiskey itself.

As for the whiskey itself – it’s a wheated bourbon that traces its roots to the WL Weller family in 1849 – though the name has only been around since 1949.

Stats:

- $14-20

- 80 proof

- Made by Luxco at the Bernheim Distillery

Presentation:

Compared to the website, the Rebel Yell bottle is pretty restrained.  Instead of steely glares from unshaven men, we have old-timey lettering, Confederate iconography, and the tiny image of a horse and its Confederate general rider.

The back label text begins with hilarious attempted-masculinity in the words “Unique.  Commanding.  Unforgettable.”  OK, Rebel Yell, I get it.

Tasting:

Quite a powerful nose on this one: freshly cut grass, marachino, and canvas.  Not as much of the harsh liquor scent I as expecting.  Tasting is a bit of a different experience.  The dominant flavor is mostly salty from start to finish.  Really, this is a strong saltiness that sticks around.  After a while you can tease out some raisin flavors, but then right back to salty.  The finish has some sense of tobacco.

Over all:

I can’t say that I was disappointed with Rebel Yell  This is better than something along the lines of a Cabin Still in that its flavor is pretty intense, but I wouldn’t reach for this on a regular basis.


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