Old Charter Proprietor’s Reserve (Bourbon Heritage Collection) Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 13 y/o
Proof: 90 (45% ABV)
Maker: Belmont Distillery (?), Louisville, KY (United Distillers)
So that I don’t have to pretend like I’m getting all boozed up in the daytime, I’ve added a “Last Night” catgory. This is what I was drinking last night. Get it? Good.
The Bourbon Heritage Collection (BHC) was a collection of whiskeys put out by United Distillers back in the 1980s and 1990s (I think). There were five of them, representing the five biggest brands of American whiskey owned by UD at the time. UD has a long conplicated history, but it is a descendent of the Guiness company and the Schenley whiskey company, and was itself an ancestor of international alcohol conglamorate Diageo. The 5 were: Old Charter Propritor’s Reserve (OCPR), I.W. Harper 15 y/o, Weller Centennial (10 y/o, 100 proof), Very Special Old Fitzgerald (12 y/o) and George Dickel Special Barrel Reserve (a Tennesee Whiskey, 10 y/o). Of these, the Weller Centennial and the and the OCPR are the best regarded, although all of them are very good whiskeys.
In the 1990s when UD was becoming Diageo, they decided to sell off their bourbon distilleries and most of their bourbon brands. Old Charter and Weller went to Buffalo Trace and Old Fitzgerald went to Heaven Hill. They kept Harper (now only sold overseas) and Dickel. Of the BHC whiskeys, the only one that is still made is the Very Special Old Fitzgerald (VSOF). The Centennial and OCPR continued being made by Buffalo Trace for several years after their acquisition, and they can still be found on shelves, but they are becoming increasingly rare, especially the highly sought-after Centennial. The older OCPRs are easily distinguished by their “sloped shoulders” as opposed to the squat bottles (similar to Elmer T. Lee and the Centennial bottles) used by Buffalo Trace after they took over the brand. All the BHC members also have a BHC neck band that was only used when they were made by UD.
As for the whiskey, the color is a light copper. It has thin, light legs. A good deal of wood comes through on the nose. This smells older than 13 years old. There must be a fairly high preportion of older whiskeys in this baby. The predomiant aroma here is of butterscotch or toffee. What it reminds me of the most is Werther’s Original hard candies.
On the palate it is light and sweet, with a big hit of wood upfront, like Sideshow Bob getting hit in the face with a rake. Ok, that was kind of silly. Sweetness follows on quickly, then some good, old fashioned alcohol burn. It fades away into a faintly sweet finish, with some more of that light, sweet butterscotch.
What I like about this whiskey is that it is not a butterscotch monster like some of its younger kin. It is very well-balanced. It’s soft and sweet, but it still has plenty of character. Again, I’m not too much of a fan of the other products of this distillery, but this one is truely an excellent whiskey, a classic. Track one down if you can.