Whisky Advocate

Review: Three Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Bourbons

February 27th, 2009

I’ve had these samples since late last year. (Sorry for the delay in posting my reviews.) There’s no indication of where these bourbons were distilled. I really enjoy the 25 year old.

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve, 46%, $36
A balanced and well-rounded whiskey, but it tastes a little youthful and spirity on the finish and lacks the depth I’m looking for to score it higher the 80s. Notes of maple syrup, crème caramel, and raspberry tart, with cinnamon, vanilla, mint and dried citrus peppered throughout. I like it, but there are better bourbons at this price point.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 80

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve, 25 year old, 43.4%, $270
Wonderfully complex on the nose and palate. Great depth too. Plus, the oak is kept in check. Notes of molasses, graham cracker, Earl Grey tea, spring flowers, nougat, evergreen, warming cinnamon and subtle tropical fruit, leading to a polished oak, charcoal-tinged finish. Very well done! The clear winner in this trio.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 93

Hirsch Small Batch Reserve, 28 year old, 43.4%, $447
Deep on the nose and heavy on the palate. Enjoyably perfumed aromas and an entertaining palate, with both showing a complex array of chewy toffee, cinnamon, candied fruit, roasted nuts, dusty cocoa and tobacco. But a very tactile leather and oak resin component dominates mid-palate through to the finish, spoiling the party. It’s past its prime.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 74

5 Responses to “Review: Three Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Bourbons”

  1. Joe Maissel says:

    John, nice reviews. Can you detail what “oak resin” tastes like (I’m not trying to be snarky)? I assume it’s that bitter taste that older whiskey can have, but I’m not sure. A more explicit description of the negative flavors would help me understand what you experienced and if this applies to over-aged whiskey in general.

  2. John Hansell says:

    Joe, it’s a textural thing to me. Put your tongue on a piece of wet wood. The whiskey has spent too much time in oak, and now the oak influence is beginning to dominate. That’s were the leather and oak resin notes are coming from. Too much oak.

  3. Joe Maissel says:

    Tasting a piece of wet wood…definitely something to try in private. Don’t want to explain that one to my wife.

  4. Red_Arremer says:

    I’d been identifying that taste as “wet leaves” (picture a mouthful of dead, muddy wet, autumn leaves)– If that helps at all.

© Copyright 2014. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.