Breaking and Entering Bourbon Whiskey - Artisan Whiskey?

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Breaking and Entering Bourbon Whiskey - Artisan Whiskey?

Unread postby Mike » Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:56 pm

ST. George artisan distillery out of Alameda, CA make a number of different spirits. I have had and like their Malt whiskey in the past. Today, however I am sampling their new 'Breaking and Entering' Bourbon. It is, so they say, made up of as many as 80 bourbons from 5 to 7 years years of age. They vat these bourbons to achieve the taste they want and then offer it for sale at about $40. The spirit is a light amber color and is 86 proof.

The nose is soft, with some vanilla, oak, a bit of char, a hint of rye, some light fruit such as white grapes, and a wee skosh of something akin to nutmeg. It is an interesting and entertaining nose, one which promises a softly sweet whiskey balanced against some wood.

The taste has some nice upfront sweetness that utilizes the vanilla (controlled by an oaky dryness) and the light fruity tastes as the nose promised. However, the rye asserts itself at midpalate with a blaze of hot spice that hangs on until the back of the mouth and promotes a pretty long finish.

This bourbon apparently did not aim at richness from the barrel (and 5 to 7 years of age does not often provide a lot of that), but rather at a smooth delicacy spiked with a midpalate jolt of rye spice. The finish is quite worthy and is drier than I would have expected. I compared it to Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, which in itself is quite a compliment. Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, which costs less than $10 a bottle more, is clearly superior to my palate because it offers more barrel richness while still retaining the much desired 'delicacy'.

ST. George has produced a very good bourbon, one that I like. But in its price range, the ST George guys (to their credit) are going up against a truly great (my opinion, of course) American whiskey in Jack Daniel's Single Barrel. Its 94 proof (and presumed special barrel selection) makes it superior to both this ST George as well as ALL the other Jack Daniel's offerings.

If the ST George were offered at about half it price, it would be a good buy. But, just maybe, an aritsan whiskey maker cannot afford to sell this whiskey at what I consider its real market value. What this says to me is that artisan whiskey makers need to remain in the market by making niche whiskies that do not compete directly with established (and in this case, excellent) products.

May I reiterate, I strongly support 'artisan' distillers and have zero regrets that I purchased this product. It is good whiskey. Maybe for reasons that do not present to me, ST George needed to offer this product to their non bourbon drinking customers as something different, knowing that bourbon drinkers would not be the primary customers here. As an overall strategy, maybe this makes some sense. If that be the case, I wish them success because there is a lot to be said for this product, albeit unlikely that it will sell well among bourbon lovers (except those with a curiosity like mine).
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Breaking and Entering Bourbon Whiskey - Artisan Whiskey?

Unread postby gillmang » Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:09 am

Interesting. I myself regularly vat large numbers of bourbon, at home in small amounts. I've got one now with about 30 bourbons (50 if we consider different years' and proofs of, say, ND OT and ND OG). Bourbons are similar enough that the the resultant palate can taste like a given bourbon you can buy or better. Quality depends on how everything is melded, but the result rarely is bad.

I too would have thought there would be more barrel character in the 5-7 year range, but perhaps most of what is in the vat is (or was) was on the lower end of that scale. It depends too on the barrels they actually bought, many bourbons in that range have a light character depending on the mashbill and where they were aged in the warehouse.

I always say, if people have bottles they don't cotton to (reading Mike from Georgia always inclines me to write in his style :)), why, vat them up and keep adding to 'em until you like it. Or, add small amounts of whiskeys you do like to adjust the character.

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Re: Breaking and Entering Bourbon Whiskey - Artisan Whiskey?

Unread postby Vital » Mon May 14, 2012 11:42 pm

Was at St. George's tasting event in Brooklyn, NY earlier today and had a chance to try this bourbon as well as lot of other spirits they produce (gin, single malt, absent...)
I also got a bottle of "Breaking And Entering" to bring home with me and have some "alone" time with it :D

All the "honey, hot spice, vanilla, orange.... aside - main ingredient here is defiantly Woodford. I am dying to find out where the "hot spice" is coming from since it is a second (Woodford's copper being first) most noticeable thing about "B&E" but since I did not try mot of bourbons out there and can't say for sure I'll just say that spicyness somewhat reminds me of Maker's 46 but a lot more intense. A lot.

Overall B&E will not make my "top" anything list mostly due to $40 price and a bit to rough as for 43%er. At this price I can get a lot more bourbons (and other whiskey's including JD single Barrel since it was mentioned) that will satisfy my palate more then Woodford with spice, some Maker's Mark and "3rd party" ingredients that aren't' even that do not stand out to begin with.

One thing I need to mention - according to St. George guys every bottle of B&E could be a bit different which kind of contradicts the point of blends but nevertheless...... I will defiantly look for future St. George's whiskeys on the market having try their experimental "Manhattan Project" whiskey which is a topic of a whole other conversation and let me say it is the one I will enjoy a lot more then anything currently known to me as "american whisky" :drunken:
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