’09 Bourbon County


I’ve been torn over whether to crack a bottle of ’09 now or wait till at least 2011. Based off the title you can guess if I waited. Luckily I have a couple more bottles stashed. Just keep in mind this beer is young.


This thing smells like a bourbon barrel through and through. Tons of toffee aroma, bourbon, and charred wood. The aroma seems a bit sweet, which makes me dread the flavor.


Pours a thick muddy black brown. Very thick, with a toffee colored head. Completely opaque.


Boy that’s alot of bourbon. I love my whiskey, but bourbon isn’t my favorite style. Flavor is slightly charred. Fairly one dimensional. Very thick and malty with some roasted malt flavor. Sweet bourbon finish. Not as dry as I’d like, but it all blends together well.


As of today not really worth another purchase. As it ages though this beer tastes like it would improve greatly. The bourbon is possibly too much for some, but I like it. This is deffinatly a whiskey drinkers stout as it tastes pretty much like a boiler maker in a bottle. As a beer it’d be a B+, possibly an A in my book. As for stylistically?

A barrel aged beer should have both elements of wood flavors from the barrel and alcohol flavors from what was stored in it previously. These flavors though are there to support and harmonize with the base beer, not bowl it over. All incarnations of Bourbon County I’ve tried lack that subtle support of the base flavor. Instead the whiskey overpowers and over runs. Also Bourbon County is a bit hot in it’s younger form which is off style as well. Stylistically this would be a B beer.

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4 Responses to “’09 Bourbon County”

  1. Beercentric says:

    “Boy that’s alot of bourbon. I love my whiskey, but bourbon isn’t my favorite style.”

    I understand the difference in the production of Bourbon Whiskey and “Whiskey,” but both are Whiskeys. The line becomes rather line at points. Maybe you can elaborate on what Bourbon profile you don’t like in this beer. The wood, the char, the malted barley, etc.

  2. Jared says:

    In my experience bourbon has always had a sweeter taste that I’ve never enjoyed. Granted the last time I drank bourbon was before I started getting into peaty scotchs and rye whiskeys, and it was all cheap bourbon. That bourbon smell and flavor just floods me with memories of cheap nasty bourbon.

    To be fair to Goose Island I rather began to rather enjoy the bourbon character as I worked my way through the bottle.

    I would guess from other whiskeys I’ve tried that the corn malt plays a part. I absolutly hate the corn whiskey I’ve tried. Keep in mind my experience with spirits is almost as limited as my knowledge of wine.

  3. Beercentric says:

    It sounds like you’re not well versed in Whiskey. All Bourbons are Whiskey, but not all Whiskeys are Bourbon. It sounds like you might need better exposure to quality bourbons before you review the profile of a Whiskey/Bourbon Barrel Beer. ;-}

    Kentucky Bourbons come in all different types and nuances. If you’ve only drank cheap Bourbons it’s like asking a guy who’s only drank Budmilloors to review a Oatmeal Stout. He’d have no clue if what it’s supposed to taste or smell. In other words….not a very admirable evaluation.

    A little extra research may have helped this situation. Although, without an understanding of the Bourbon type or profile, the review may still have been flawed. I’ve done some research on this beer back in 2006 when it won the GABF Gold Medal, but had to to recheck my info. A quick Google search turned up this great info:

    “2008 Bourbon County Stout is aged 10 months in 17 year old Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. The beer is full of wonderful flavors like bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate, prunes, caramel and tobacco.”

    Further research tells me that Heaven Hills Distillates is a Kentucky master distiller that distills many types of Bourbon; Evan Williams and Elijah Craig are but a few. In reviewing this beer and after gaining this knowledge, a sampling of both of these Bourbons may have gained you some insight to their flavor profiles and how they combined with the Goose Island Stout.

    BTW, drinking this 2009 batch now, considering the beers history of huge Bourbon tones and density was pretty much like buying a Thomas Hardy Ale and drinking the same day you bought it. That beer can age for 25 + years. Like a big Cabernet, a taste to check for future quality is never a bad thing, but it might have been better to acquire a sample at a pub or beer fest to acquire that info.

  4. Jared says:

    I’ll admit that I’m not super well versed in Whiskey, but I do know what bourbon whiskey is. I was simply stating I have not tasted alot of bourbon. Like I said, I tend to enjoy scotch and rye whiskey more. While I probably could have gained alot by evaluating the whiskeys that were in these barrels I don’t think it could have strongly influenced this review. The whiskey flavor is distinctly bourbon, and it over runs the whole beer. the review is of the overall flavor of the beer, not just the whiskey component.

    Also I had done my research and knew this was a beer I’d enjoy, especially as it ages. We had a 12oz bottle of the ’08 at Thanksgiving. The reason I cracked this beer young was I wanted a beer to review and just happened to have 3 bottles of it set aside for aging. I figured cracking one wouldn’t hurt. I know that this beer will change with age and that cracking it young didnt do it justice.

    As to the flavors listed, I personaly didnt grab those flavors. Mostly I had bourbon, charred wood, and toffee with some various malt flavors slipping in and out of the background. As it ages those flavors may come out though.

    To say this is an issue with my whiskey knowledge I think isn’t truly fair I was simply admiting my knowledge of bourbon whiskey is a little deficient. You can still evaluate a good barrel beer without a direct knowledge of the exact spirit or wine that was in the barrel before. You just need to know the spirit styles flavor, and be able to seperate that from the beer.

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