Monday, June 20, 2016

Tom's Foolery Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Bottled in Bond or BIB whiskey has a reputation for quality. The requirements for a whiskey to be bottled in bond are known to most whiskey geeks, but to recap they are that the whiskey be:

  • Produced by one distillery in one season;
  • At least four years old;
  • Free of additives; and
  • Bottled at 50% abv
Lately, there is a new entry into the BIB world, craft whiskeys. Anchor was the first craft outfit to put out a bonded whiskey many years ago with their Old Potrero Hotaling's series, but recently there have been a couple of craft distillers who have released BIB whiskeys, including Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn and Tom's Foolery in Ohio.

Tom's Foolery started making apple brandy, but they moved onto bourbon using the barrel-a-day pot still that formerly was owned by Pennco, the maker of Michter's (which they have since sold to the new Michter's Distillery). Their bourbon is aged in standard 53 gallon barrels.

Tom's Foolery Bonded Bourbon, 4 years old, Batch #1, 50% abv ($50)

The first time I tasted this I thought it was raw and off-putting...typical craft whiskey, I thought.  I put it back on the shelf.  I taste everything that I review at least twice both because some whiskeys benefit from air and to make sure my own palate is consistent. 

A week and a half after that first taste, I tried it again. The transformation was huge. The nose still had some of those raw grain notes that are typical of craft bourbons, but it also had oak, honey and mint. On the palate it had mint and sweet tea. The finish was very strong with butterscotch and malty Ovaltine type notes on the nose and sweet mint tea on the palate followed by Carnation chocolate malts (like at the ballpark).  As I sipped it, the raw notes started to dissipate, with mint taking its place. It got better with every sip.  It's sort of what I imagine MGP's bourbon would taste like if it was made on a pot-still - minty and grainy.

This is unmistakably craft whiskey, but it's got more complexity then most craft bourbons I've tasted.  As I describe above, though, it needs air, lots of air. My suggestion would be to pop it open, have a small taste, and then wait a week.  Then, once you pour it, give it a good 15 minutes in the glass...or sip and observe the transition.  

Thanks to K&L's David OG for the sample.  


Richnimrod said...

I wonder... If one were to pour off about a third of the bottle into a smaller container (for future use), then shake the hell out of the remaining 2/3, then wait the week or so.... Would that hasten the 'maturation' one might otherwise expect of this Bourbon with many weex, and several pours???
What sayest thou, good sir? ...OR, anybody else who wishes to weigh in?

Unknown said...

With a young tight wine to hasten its drinkability you would aerate/decant it. Perhaps by pouring a taste then setting the bottle back on the table you have accomplished a similar action. I'm more experienced with wine. Some folks open a wine and leave the opened bottle on the table to breathe. The only air exposure the wine gets is that nickle sized part in the neck. Not a lot of "breathing" room there. Would "shaking the hell" out of the whiskey damage the flavors? Wine would degrade quickly if shaken.

sku said...

I've never decanted whiskey, but it might be a good thing in this case...nor have I ever shaken the hell out of it. What I tend to do for aeration is leave it in the glass.

I've definitely seen whiskey change after opening, but keep in mind, with wine, if you leave it on the table to aerate, you're probably only doing so for a few minutes. With whiskey, you can open it, let in the Oxygen, and then store it for two weeks, so you're giving it more time with the Oxygen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Sku, I got a bottle of this and tried two glasses of it and got the same "craft whiskey" taste you got, not that great. I put the bottle away thinking I wouldn't go back to it any time soon. I'll try it in a week and see. Hopefully I get the same result you did