In my review for a 12-Year Old Carter Single Barrel, I commented that it’s a brand I’ll keep my eye out for, should distribution ever expand to my state. At the same time, I had a tough time outright recommending a purchase, least of all without trying beforehand. The big reason there is pricing. As excellent as the whiskey was, $170+ is more in-line with purchasing for a special occasion than anything else, which the Old Carter didn’t quite achieve.
Now we’re going to find out if another Old Carter Single Barrel provides similar results. The sample we’re looking at today is 13 years old, was from barrel 70 in a Kentucky release from last year, and yielded 158 bottles. Otherwise, the disclosed details are identical to the 12-Year.
Nose: Rich and delightful. Caramel and brown sugar upfront with a fruity backbone. Really nice balance of oak with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Great blend of candied orange with vanilla accents as I get further into the glass. Some cherry and toffee candy with a hint of candied nuts. After swirling, I get a rich, dessert-y banana note, bordering on bananas foster, but not so much maple syrup (if at all).
Palate: Rich (again) and super juicy, like Favereds Starburst (cherry and strawberry, specifically). First sip is a fruit explosion. Second sip brings more oak and brown sugar followed by waves of vanilla and caramel taking turns coming and going. Over time and with each sip, oak and vanilla come out even more while the fruit transitions into creamy orange candy (Cream Savers).
Finish: Moderate/medium at first, but builds on subsequent sips. Vanilla, brown sugar, and a little oak. More vanilla and caramel come to life with fruity pie (strawberries and a touch of cherry). Get some smoky oak, a touch of pepper, and maybe tobacco that linger on.
Hey there, Delilah. The nose alone got my eyes and ears to perk up. As I spent more time with it, the layers became much more apparent and fulfilling. Some whiskeys have noses that make you happy even if you don’t end up sipping—this is one of them. But this is my day off, so I’m rewarding myself proper. One look at my tasting notes between the nose and palate should adequately paint the picture. My first sip threw me for a bit of a loop, since it went from fruit and toffee-like candy to full-on Starburst. Afterwards, that blast of flavor is reigned in for more of an oak-rich profile. The 13-year age statement begins treading into the territory where bitter oak tannins can become a problem, but this Old Carter gracefully avoids such pitfalls.
I sampled this Old Carter with the one I previously reviewed in a blind side-by-side to see which one I’d prefer. Even with only one added year of aging, the level of maturity on this one felt noticeably greater. I ended up preferring it largely thanks to the amazing nose. The rest of the whiskey doesn’t quite match up to that aspect, but I still enjoyed each part more than the 12-year. So much so that I’d have a slightly easier time recommending Old Carter based on this particular barrel. The 12-year sample already made me understand the acclaim the Carters have earned for themselves, but this one has me hoping they’ll see expansion into even more markets sooner rather than later.