We love to see old labels come back into the market. I have a special fondness for this label for several reasons. First, Judge McBrayer was a very good distiller in the 19th century. E.H. Taylor, Jr. considered him one of the best and always purchased barrels from him when possible.
Next, I was glad to provide inspiration to the family for many aspects of reviving this historic whiskey label. I first met the modern generation of McBrayers at a meeting of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Bourbon Society. They said they were thinking about getting back into the whiskey business and I discussed with them why they should. They have a rich heritage in the industry and I am sure they could sell a revived label. And they have done just that.
They asked me for some help and I pointed them towards a letter in the Taylor-Hay Family papers at the Filson Historical Society. That letter inspired their mash bill. Next they read my blogs on barrel entry proof, heirloom corn and contract distilling and followed this in their business plan.
They had some whiskey made at Wilderness Trail Distillery using Bloody Butcher corn and a barrel entry proof of 105. This whiskey is 88% Bloody Butcher corn, 7% rye and 5% malted barley. They made ten barrels in the first run and have bottled five barrels for this four year old, small batch Bourbon. They bottled it at barrel proof. They are holding back the other five barrels for more age on the second batch. This batch is very good and we are looking forward to the next batch.
W.H. McBrayer Straight Bourbon
Age: Four Years Old
- Mike: Very subtle nose. Vanilla, corn and the smell of an apricot bread baking with a hint of oak.
- Matt: Caramel, baking bread and cumin spice.
- Mike: Candied fruit – cherries and apricots, with a little allspice and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and it becomes rich with brown sugar and cinnamon spice with the pitted fruits and sweet oak. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit comes forward with the baking spices moving to the background – very brandy-like flavor.
- Matt: Brown sugar, cherries and cumin with a hint of oak. The dried cranberry made the spice a sweet cinnamon spice. The pecan brought out notes of caramel and chocolate.
- Mike: A long finish with sweet oak wood and lingering candied fruit and spice notes – very brandy-like in the finish. The dried cranberry made the finish even longer with more spice and a hint of pipe tobacco with very little oak wood. The pecan made the finish very long with lots of oak and spice.
- Matt: Long with notes of tobacco, hickory smoke, cherries and spice. The dried cranberry added notes of cinnamon to the already complex finish. The pecan added notes of hickory smoke and caramel to the flavor mix.
I would pair this fine Bourbon with a cigar that is equally complex with flavor in the smoke. I would reach for an Arturo Fuente Don Carlos “Eye of the Shark” cigar. It has many fruit and spice notes with some earthy tobacco and hints of vanilla and caramel. It should work well with this Bourbon as each complements the flavors in the other.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller