By Father John Rayls
The Watkins Select Bourbon Whiskey is a “bottom shelf” winner. Bottled at 80 proof, it’s a surprise find and an interesting sample of sourced bourbon from Kentucky. It’s readily available and probably much overlooked, but very little information is available for Watkins Select, and it definitely isn’t a top tier bourbon. Still, it’s good enough to be on your shelf.
Watkins Select is bottled in California by LeVecke Corporation. In terms of economy, it is a gold star winner and has sufficient flavor to make it worthwhile at its price point.
In the Glencairn glass, the color is dark gold with lighter highlights. The legs are very present, but they are somewhat thin.
The nose is light to medium and brings light oak, new leather and caramel. The taste is what you would expect from a “bottom shelf” bourbon whiskey. The mouthfeel is light with a short flavor profile. Most of the action takes place at the mid-mouth area. It especially activates the roof of the mouth. It’s a light caramel and oak combo that fades quickly as the finish asserts itself.
It’s the finish that is the surprising part. The spicy cinnamon kicks in quickly and establishes itself as the dominant experience and lifts this bourbon up.
It doesn’t drink hot, but is instead a smooth yet spicy drink. Use it as a very good mixer and, occasionally, as a neat sipper to offer balance to your normal repertoire. At 80 proof, there isn’t any need to add water.
The real “ace in the hole” is its price. At 16 bucks, it’s very affordable. Remember your disappointment when you’ve spent three and four times as much to simply achieve “meh” in your enjoyment. At $16.00, you’re risking very little to achieve a very interesting tasting experience especially for cocktails.