Old William Tarr is so old he abbreviates his name as Wm. And while Tarr had a distillery in Lexington 150 years ago, it’s been dark for more than a century. The brand was recently revived by a group of investors, and at the end of 2020 the operation released its first two products, both sourced Kentucky whiskeys from unnamed distilleries.
Manchester Reserve is an interesting product, a blend of a bourbon and a rye. The bourbon is 7 years old and made from a mash of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. The rye is 8 years old, a blend of 37% corn, 51% rye, and 12% malted barley. The proportion of each whiskey in the final blend is not disclosed.
It’s a credible whiskey that drinks largely like a bourbon. The somewhat beefy nose offers notes of bacon fat and black pepper, and features a lightly herbal, incense-dusted aroma. The palate is big with caramel corn and peanut shells, presenting a fairly typical profile of a bourbon at this age level. An immense candy corn sweetness grows on the tongue, and it’s backed up by an ample spice character driven by the rye, with powdered ginger a significant factor. A heavy peanut butter note is evident on the finish, along with a gentle milk chocolate note. It’s a whiskey that benefits well from some water, although it’s a fairly straightforward experience regardless of the preparation.
A- / $80