As promised, Round 2 of the new Hardin’s Creek line from Jim Beam is here. As a reminder, the trilogy of whiskeys are all identical 17 year old bourbons save for one detail: They were aged in different rickhouses in Kentucky, exposing the impact of Kentucky’s various microclimates. The first release, Clermont, showcased the impact of an aging location near Louisville. Frankfort is closer to Lexington to the east, where Beam says higher humidity slows down the aging process.
This expression initially comes off as familiar and, when nosed side by side with Clermont, not distinctly different. Lots of char and dark chocolate are prominent, though the wood feels a bit less oily and polished. Perhaps a bit more baking spice and a hint of mint. There’s some sweetness here, but we’ll get to that in more detail in a minute.
The palate immediately causes one to raise an eyebrow, with a strong note of butterscotch and sweet peanut brittle arriving immediately. Considerably sweeter than Clermont, it quickly comes alive with notes of buttered popcorn, vanilla cream, and some root beer. The sugar clings to the palate. I kept going back and forth between the Clermont and Frankfort releases and found they only diverged over time, never coming back to meet again. Clermont’s savory-meets-sweet finish is replaced with a spicy peanut sauce character, with a milk chocolate note behind it.
Ultimately on its face I like Clermont quite a bit better, but the real fun is in trying these two side by side to see where they meet and where they don’t. When Boston joins the group next month, things should get really interesting.
B+ / $170 / hardinscreek.com