10 Jul 2013
I doubt I’m the first to point out that there are two ways to think about the price point of Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve, which is about $35 per 750 ml. bottle.
The first is to consider all the other bourbons that can be had for $35 or less. Many are excellent. There are far too many to mention here, so I’ll simply refer you to the Bourbon Guide we recently published. The point is, the Small Batch Reserve has some stiff competition in its segment of the market.
But if you look at it from a different angle—comparing its price to its two sister bourbons—the regular Hirsch Small Batch Reserve seems like a steal. The 25-year-old Small Batch Reserve runs $270, and the 28-year-old variety costs nearly $450.
Since I’m definitely priced out of the two higher-end impressions, I’ll stick with the regular Small Batch Reserve as a viable option for my liquor cabinet and cigar-pairing needs. This four- to six-year-old spirit is produced by the San Francisco-based Anchor Distilling Co., which markets it as a “combination of precise distillation techniques, careful barrel selection, and patience over maturation.”
Clocking in at 92-proof, the bourbon pours very light amber in the glass with virtually zero opacity. It has a light, honey-centric nose with traces of apple and hardly any alcoholic heat. I like to add an ice cube or two to cool the surprisingly heated taste. Once mellowed, a flavor of oak, syrup, rhubarb, caramel, and vanilla takes center stage. The finish is short and crisp.
While I wouldn’t say I’m underwhelmed with Hirsch Selection Small Batch Reserve, I don’t think I’ll be jumping at the chance to buy another bottle real soon. I’m just not sure it has the balance, complexity, or finish that can be found in similarly-priced competitors.
As I finish my current bottle, I’m finding milder to mild-medium cigars offer the best pairing results. So far, my favorite combinations have included the Tesa Picadura King, J. Fuego 777 Corojo, and the Pinar del Rio Clasico Exclusivo.
photo credit: Stogie Guys