~$30, McScrooge’s (Knoxville)
According to their website, “Big Bottom Whiskey hand selects only the finest whiskeys from around the country for all connoisseurs to savor.” Seeing this at McScrooge’s on a recent trip to Knoxville, I had to get a bottle to try, but which to start with: the regular Bourbon or the “Port Cask Finish”? I’ve had plenty of regular Bourbons and I’m always willing and anxious to try something new...so in that spirit, I went for something really new and different for me: the Port Cask Finish expression. What I ended up with is the “3-Year Old,” designated “Batch #2” on their website (Batch #1 is a 2-year aged whiskey to start with). They start with Bourbon that has a mash bill of 60% corn, 4% malted barley, and 36% rye, aged for 3 years in new charred American White Oak barrels, then finish it for some time (unstated) in tawny port barrels before bottling. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of port so I was concerned I might not enjoy this spirit...but I needn’t have worried.
In the glass, the Big Bottom Cask-Finished Bourbon is almost a ruby red in color, much darker than the amber shades exhibited by most American whiskies. On the nose, I detected some subtle hints of the Bourbon base product, with its vanilla and corn aromas, but there is a stronger fruit aroma that comes through as well...berry or cherry is my best guess. Taking a sip, the whiskey is elegantly smooth with big cherry flavors up front; as I swallowed, I got a greater sense of the oak and vanilla flavors along with a lingering mildly spicy burn on the finish. Truly a very nice whiskey variety to sip neat...and please do try this before ruining it by adding ice.
I paired this beverage with a cigar I enjoy for its sweetness and spice: Tatuaje’s La Casita Criolla, made completely of Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco. I’ve actually tried the Big Bottom Port Cask Finish Bourbon with quite a few different cigars in the few weeks since I acquired it, but this was a great pairing, a great deal of sweetness being imparted by both cigar and spirit and spice from both that proved complementary as well. Big Bottom products are available in 14 states currently; if you are in one of them, and you’re a Bourbon fan, you should give this a try.