February 25, 2009

Economic Bourbon Reviews, Part VII: Ten High Blended

We've reached the final whiskey review, which falls to Ten High. I've had Ten High a few times before, but never tasted the new blended expression that has replaced the Kentucky straight bourbon Ten High once was. The venerable Chuck Cowdery discusses the change from straight to the blend here, here, and here. I'm not sure I remember the former, straight Ten High, so I'm not sure I can compare it to the blended version. But that is the topic of another discussion anyway.

Ten High is bottled by Barton Distilling Company. It's 80 proof and made by the sour mash method, which I discussed briefly in the Evan Williams review. I've heard the name "Ten High" comes from the poker hand, the ten-high straight.

Neat: The nose of Ten High is ethanol, which is likely due to the fact it's a blend, meaning it's been blended with 49% neutral grain spirits (vodka). Behind the alcohol aroma is some vanilla sweetness and maybe some light fruit notes. Mouthfeel is slightly oily. Taste is not complex, kind of blunted, with oak and a tiny amount of smokiness. Very easy to drink. It finishes quick, with an astringent, grainy burn. It's uninteresting.

Whiskey Sour: Ten High mixed into an okay whiskey sour. Certainly nothing spectacular. But, I hope you wouldn't be too snooty to turn it down. It puts the booze into your drink, and just be happy enough with that. Like the other bourbons in this review series, Ten High's price is outstanding given its quality.

As you might have guessed, Ten High did not beat Old Grand Dad as my favorite cheap bourbon. Like Rebel Yell, it falls in the huddled masses of the average middle group. If Ten High is all that you have on hand for an impromptu party or is all that is left in your liquor cabinet when the urge to have a whiskey arises, don't fret.

Well, the reviews are in. Old Grand Dad takes the cake in my book. However, there was not a bad bourbon in the bunch. Considering the low prices of these bottles, and in the spirit of the enjoyment of spirits, you really can't go too wrong with any one of these bourbons. I hope that even in the worst of economic times, at least one of these whiskies is accessible to you.