Oh, the nose. It's like a whiff of bourbony crack. Maple, leather, shoe polish (good shoe polish) and so much other stuff I don't wanna describe it, I just want to sit here and waft. The palate is somewhat surprising given the nose, because it's actually mild and not super-rich like the nose might advertise. But that doesn't mean it's not great. It's mildly sweet and rather drying, and falls into the category of an "elegant" bourbon, with a little bit of teeth. A delightful all-night (or all-day) sipper. Yum! (Bottling circa 2008)
N: Initially sweet; some good, aged wood. Faint hint of clay and other earthines. The faintest trace of oranges and cinnamon. A faint dusting of white pepper.
P: A fair amount of cherries; the claylike earthiness continues with a hint of marshmallow. Some light maple syrup as well and a touch of bubblegum. Gentle grains. Medium wood - present but not overbearing at all. A dash of white pepper heats things up gently.
F: Light and smooth; a bit of wood shows up here as the earthy notes doinate. The orange notes are nicely present on the high end providing some brightness and the black cherry lies underneath it all.
This is a great bourbon, of course I prefer it to the 15 because everything tucks together nicely. I normally like high-octane bourbons, but in this case, everything's at the perfect intensity - rounded off, well worn but not tired and perfectly proportioned.
2010 bottling -- Medium amber color. Everything you are looking for in a bourbon on the nose: deep and robust molasses, caramel and a complex vanilla. The palate is woody (too a fault to me) and not nearly as complex as I would like. The finish is excellent. B+ [1/27/13]
2012 bottling -- Medium amber color. Very similar to the 2010 bottling (though I appear to be in minority with this view); deeper molasses and vanilla notes. The palate is very similar again, perhaps with a little more going on. B [1/27/13]
2013 VW Vertical Tasting: The 20 is starting to dip in quality. I still give this one a B (as I did last year's), but it's getting closer to B- range. The nose is light with some citrus, sweet wood and caramel. The palate has some bitter notes I don't like. B [1/26/14]