Old Carter is a name I’ve heard people drop every now and then. It’s a fairly recent brand, being the latest passion project for Mark and Sherri Carter, a wine-versed couple who initially worked for Kentucky Owl. Now they’re doing their own thing with the Old Carter brand. Their focus is to provide “totally unique, very small-batch, straight rye and bourbon whiskies. We create our spirits from the heart, each one a single expression of what we love.”
Sounds simple enough. Only downside is availability on Old Carter is quite limited, with Kentucky, California, and DC being among the lucky few areas thus far. Pricing is also on the steep side, with $200 being a typical asking cost (MSRP is closer to $170). I was lucky enough to be sent samples for two of their offerings, both single barrels, one aged 12 years and the other 13 years. We’ll be looking at the 12-Year today (which yielded 145 bottles) while the 13-Year will be right around the corner. Let’s see what Mark and Sherri have to offer.
Nose: Opens with big brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla. An orange dreamsicle aroma emerges from the caramel/toffee notes, along with candied nuts. Cherry soon reveals itself as I nose deeper into the glass. Swirling livens up the vanilla and brown sugar while bringing out some sweet cinnamon and nicely balanced oak. Some more citrus after that, but it’s sweet and developed instead of light and acidic. Treads into fruit crepe territory after sipping. Side note: The girlfriend gets a bit eggnog.
Palate: Rich, bright cherry and oak. Orange on second sip with a bit of vanilla, an ample supply of oak, and melted toffee candy. Light fruity acidity, like orange and cantaloupe with some vanilla. More sips bring more creamy fruit, not unlike Rock Hill Farms. I also get the impression of freshly brewed Thai tea.
Finish: Quite lengthy. Sweet, vibrant oak and brown sugar dominate with orange and caramel residuals.
I can see now why the Carters are so well respected. If you’re a sucker for buttery or creamy bourbon, this one has you covered. Might as well lump me into that category while we’re at it, because that dreamsicle-like profile I got continues throughout the entire affair, bringing surges of complementary dessert notes from start to finish. And what a finish this baby has. Most of the complexity doesn’t last particularly long, but the enduring flavors are thoroughly enjoyable. The samples of Shenk’s Homestead and Rock Hill Farms I tried late last year offered similar flavor profiles to this. Given the lower proof points, however, they didn’t deliver nearly the same level of richness and character.
If this barrel is anything to go off of, then I’ll be keeping an eye out for Old Carter in the future, should distribution expand to Florida. Only other downside is that, due to the $170+ price tag, purchasing a bottle of anything by Old Carter isn’t something you do without prior considerations. I believe that most whiskeys with triple-digit asking prices are rarely worth that much money, especially against $50-$80 bottles that can easily hold their own. Old Carter makes a mighty valiant case for itself, it’s just too difficult to ultimately recommend when you consider the limited availability and hefty price tag. Absolutely worth trying if you get the chance, but not quite a must-have.