My love of Hirsch is well documented... Here and on my Instagram. KY-012 is up there near my favorite whiskeys of all time. As all single barrels can vary, I'll go into this one with a fresh mind. This one is noticeably a slightly higher proof than the previous one I have tried. This sample comes courtesy of Ian (@barrelproofnerd) and I thank him for always being a generous whiskey sharer!
Company on Label: A.H. Hirsch (Bottled by Strong Spirits; Distilled in Bardstown, KY)
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 72% Corn, 13% Rye, 15% Malted Barley
Age: 7 years (9 months)
Further identification: Barrel No KY-019, Barrel entry 62.5%, aged 7 years 9 months; the Batch No on the neck is AHH0821.
Nose: Mmm. The spice zest is high on this one as I dip my nose into the fray. There's a prevalent harsh heat as I try to pick up flavors. Underneath that I find heavy brown sugar, spice cake with cream cheese frosting, leather and hefty cinnamon. Boozy hot chocolate borders on tiramisu as the sweet mixes with the heat. Dry oak and dark tree bark are widespread and persistent. There's just a tiny hint of the citrus side of things that I traditionally love about this mash bill. There's waffle cone and caramel in troves on this. It's heavy and mighty without coming across as too. There's definitely some big ethanol heat that happens on this pour, but it's not overpoweringly so (at least for me). Time for a sip to test the validity of that statement...
The potent sip has certainly unlocked some more delectable aromas; I find well-oiled leather, thick molasses, and a confectioners sugar laced with mace. There's a good bit of Bardstown funk going on here and I'm definitely here for it. The empty glass smells of sweet fluoride, raspberry and leather.
Palate: Oh wow - this is silky upfront on the tongue... until you swallow it. Whew! That's a lot of spice. Cinnamon hots flash up in the infernal column of my flaming esophagus. Another sip is calmer as plum and cherry skins attempt to cool the pits of hell. This is certainly one of the heftier whiskeys I've experienced in some time. Interestingly anise and clove begin to work their way into this pour. I'm still intrigued by the leather notes and the level of spicy heat this is able to produce. While the glass has become drinkable I also feel as though my palate is a bit shot / blinded now. I'm not picking up nuanced layers of flavor, but a consistent beating of cinnamon hots against the side of an oak wall. It's hot for the sake of being hot and it is making me feel like I'm going to break a sweat just sitting with this glass! I'm digging the fruitiness that I do pick up in between the novacane mouthfeel. My last sip reminds me of Stagg Jr batch 13. Yum.
I'm going to give this one style points for delivering so poignantly. If you are looking for the feeling of getting punched in the face as part of your whiskey drinking experience, this is the pour for you. The parallels to Stagg Jr batch 13 are very real - this one is definitely a hot mess, but I liked it nonetheless. If you are not a proof-hound: please stay away from this barrel!