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Echo Springs Straight Bourbon
Heaven Hill Distilleries, Bardstown, KY
While returning to Florida from a post-graduate school road trip jaunt out across the Western USA, we decided to stop in at the Liquor Barn store located in the Town Center mall in the Eastern side of Louisville, KY to stock up on bourbons we cannot obtain in South Florida. Liquor Barn is a small chain with a spectacular selection of spirits that is without a doubt worthy of a stop if you are in the Louisville area. To my knowledge they are only located in that locality. With a car loaded up to the windows with rocks, guns tobacco, etc obtained along the way I generally was quite judicious about the selection at Liquor Barn. Still, I wanted to make the most of the stop and wanted to obtain some small batch or single barrel bourbons that are just impossible to find in my area of the USA. As I was checking out I noticed a table of discounted liquors and a bottle of Echo Spring jumped out at me. At $15.99 for a 1.75 liter bottle it was just too cheap for me to pass up. I threw it into the basket and headed out the door to find space in the car for all my purchases. This is a young 80 proof bourbon and as such I was not expecting much. Echo Springs is one of Heaven Hill's smaller brands sold on the bottom shelf of liquor stores. Indeed, production must be so low that they give it virtually no promotion whatsoever. An examination of Heaven Hill's website shows only scant mention of the brand at the very bottom of the page (http://www.heaven-hill.com/brands-bourbon.html). I suppose that is what this whiskey deserves but I was somewhat surprised at what it delivered for the money.
Echo Springs is a three-year-old bourbon, as such it is lighter in color than, say, the standards like Jim Beam or Evan Williams. It has the appearance of weak tea and almost appears thin and yellow like Apple Juice when held up to natural light.
Two shots were poured and allowed to breath for several minutes. The first shot was poured into a freshly cleaned and towel dried Spiegelau Cremona 120ml Grappa type sampling glass. This first shot was swirled and used to sample the nose, taste and to create the other notes. The second shot was used to create secondary notes or to allow a secondary sampling to confirm/debate the initial thoughts. One sampler was present. These notes were compiled over two sampling sessions: 23 August 2010 and 5 September 2010.
The one dimensional nose shows the clear influence of corn in the mash and a young essence that danced its’ way into the nose. Using the sampling glass one could clearly obtain a sense of the freshness of the spirit but the oiliness of the corn seemingly precluded a room filling perfume associated with older bourbons and ones with less corn in the mashbill.
There is plenty of corn in this whiskey. It leaves a slightly oily feel in the mouth and the young spirit dances on the palate. Flavors are not complex producing a minty sensation at that flattens out to creamy tastes of flan with caramelized sugars on top. The flavor is not unpleasant but is also certainly not complex enough to warrant getting out the good glasses or having any sort of special tasting with friends.
Echo Springs is clearly one of Heaven Hill’s bottom shelf offering that does not deliver too much in regards to fan-fair but is not, on the other hand, offensive. Opening the bottle produces no great whooshes of bourbon essence filling the room. Sampling Echo Springs will not influence one to write great literature or to spontaneously understand Jazz music. This is bourbon of the masses; proletarian, working class liquor that does not offend but on the other hand is simple and lacks on the inspiration side. There is simply not a lot of get to get out of a three year old 80 proof bourbon. This is not sipping bourbon. The nose and taste are pretty monodimensional and as such this relegates this low end offering to the manufacture mixed drinks. As a mixer Echo Springs does very well and this is how this bourbon should be consumed. We made several mixed drinks out of the bottle and it held up quite well in Whiskey Sours, Manhattans and even mixed with some tonic water. While this might not be the most glowing recommendation allow me to say that for the price paid this was a good bargain.
Echo Springs is recommended with the caveat that it should be drunk mixed and not straight.
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