Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Stranahan’s and Exposure PR for the sample.

During a trip in 2016 to Denver’s Stranahan’s Distillery, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Rob Dietrich, the head distiller. Rob’s a character to be sure, and he’s a good storyteller. Over the years, he’s effectively been the face of the brand. He began working at Stranahan’s in the early days of the company, and when the distillery was sold to Proximo Spirits in 2010, he took over the lead role from the departing Jake Norris. In my write-up of that trip, I mentioned that, as much of a character as Rob is, he’s also pretty humble about it all – he sees himself more as a steward of the brand than a “master distiller.” That does not, however, mean that he hasn’t left his mark. When he became the head distiller, Stranahan’s had just the one yellow-labeled Original expression. Under Rob’s guidance, three other expressions have joined the range.

The first of these, Stranahan’s Snowflake, showcases the whiskey after it’s been finished in a variety of wine and spirits casks. It began life as a twice-a-year special release, and today is a coveted limited edition, sold at the distillery only on one day in December. Rob’s second creation, this Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, debuted in 2015 and from the beginning was slated to have much wider distribution. Compared to the Original, the Diamond Peak is sort of a distiller’s reserve/select kind of thing – this is Dietrich’s interpretation of the Stranahan ideal. The whiskeys used are at least four years old in contrast to the Original’s two-to-five year old age range. As with the Original, whiskeys used in the Diamond Peak have been matured in new American white oak barrels that have first been toasted, then charred to a #3 char.

The Nose:  A fairly rich and fruity nose. Initially, there’s tart apples with caramel sauce, cola, clover honey, and a bit of overripe cantaloupe. Close behind, French vanilla ice cream, and semi-sweet chocolate chips in warm chocolate chip cookies. There’s just a hint of slightly sweet, slightly beery toasted grain. The oak is polished and integrated with warmed cinnamon, vanilla bean, subtle clove and faint peppercorns

The Palate:  Really nice, creamy, oily mouthfeel. Much of the sweetness from the nose carries over – dark honey, vanilla syrup, cherry cola, and bruised apples. There’s lots more chocolate here, both milky and dark, with hints of nutty fudge and gingerbread. The oak is sturdy and strongly tannic with lots of cinnamon and vanilla bean, clove, candied ginger, and nutmeg.

The Finish:  Lingering and more-ish. A bit of that cola-esque sweetness fades early, leaving cocoa nibs, grippy oak, ground pepper, and baking spices to fade more slowly.

Thoughts:  Really good stuff. The Diamond Peak is my favorite Stranahan’s expression thanks to its balanced mix of dark sweetness and vibrant oak. This one progresses nicely, nose to finish, from a sweet fruity whiskey, to a spicy oaky one, with enough youthful complexity to keep things interesting along the way. While the average price of around $70-$75 is about $20 more than the yellow label Original, the Diamond Peak would be my pick if you’re looking to check out the brand. Recommended.

Stranahan’s Diamond Peak Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, Batch #21, +/- 2017

47% ABV

Score:  85


 

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Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Stranahan’s and Exposure PR for the sample.

The summer before last, I had the opportunity to visit Denver, CO and Stranahan’s Distillery for their first Cask Thief event. It was a great opportunity to see a bit of the area and get to know this elder statesman of American single malt whiskey a little better. Granted, Stranahan’s isn’t really all that old, having got its start in 2004, but the American single malt scene is a fairly young one, so in that regard, the distillery is an old-timer. At the aforementioned event, we had the chance to try, straight from the cask, several different, somewhat unusual barrels which painted an even more complex picture of the whiskey being made there.

Here we are a year and a half later, and with the release in late 2017 of Stranahan’s Sherry Cask expression, I figured it was as good a time as any to revisit this stalwart craft brand starting with their flagship yellow label Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey. Over the years, this whiskey has been released in batches and has had both its age and flavor profile evolve somewhat as the maturing stocks grow. Stranahan’s borrows more than a bit from beer brewing in its production, especially in the wort and wash phases which in general favor a more sanitized, filtered process versus what you regularly see in single malt Scotch production. Distillation occurs in squat, hybrid pot/column stills, while maturation happens in new American White Oak barrels that have been first toasted, then charred (at a #3 level char for those counting) by Independent Stave. Currently, the Original is made up of whiskeys ranging from two to five years old. Please note that there is a bit of variation between batches, and while I was not given the exact batch number for this sample, it’s from either #190, #191, #192, 193, or #194. I know…that doesn’t really narrow it down. In any case, they’re now on batch #202, so do with that what you will.

The Nose:  A fruity sweetness and quite a bit of wood influence. Honeycrisp apples dipped in warm caramel sauce along with candied orange slices and a bit of cherry cola. Vanilla bean ice cream, cocoa powder, and a hint of lemon zest. The oak is rather prominent and a little edgy with hints of fresh sawn boards. Baking spice notes, almost gingerbread-esque, with sticky vanilla bean, warm cinnamon, faint clove, and nutmeg, along with a faint whiff of dried mint.

The Palate:  Lightly oily mouthfeel, with lots of sugared sweetness initially. Toasted marshmallow, more caramel apple, vanilla syrup, and crème brûlée. The chocolate is back as well, but it’s darker now, and barely sweetened. The strong oak carries through, too with rough sawn boards, tannic and grippy. There’s continued vanilla bean, clove, and cinnamon with Tellichery peppercorns and a hint of star anise. A subtle, almost herbal grainy quality carries through to the finish.

The Finish:  Burnt sugar sweetness, more marshmallow and caramel, fade first, with tannic oak, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and peppercorns lingering the longest

Thoughts:  The Stranahan’s Original is still a good whiskey. It’s a young, oaky whiskey, but it manages to not seem as young as it is, and pulls off its barrel-forward flavor profile by incorporating a balanced, sweetness, and just enough hints of the raw distillate to keep things interesting. It’s not the most earth-shattering, complex whiskey in the world, but it remains straightforward and distinctive, nicely establishing the distillery’s house style. Price seems to vary pretty widely for this one, from around $45 to $65 with occasional options outside that range. I think it’s a good whiskey to explore on the low end of that scale, but on the higher end, I think I’d opt to shell out a bit more for the even more refined Diamond Peak.

Stranahan’s Original Colorado Single Malt Whiskey, +/-2017 (See above for batch # info)

47% ABV

Score:  83


 

 

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition Irish Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Irish Distillers, Jameson, and Ketchum for the sample.

For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s Irish whiskey review, I thought we’d take a look at  St. Francis. Ok, perhaps more specifically, the Franciscans, the religious orders and sects that follow the teachings of St. Francis. What the hell, let’s narrow it down even further and talk about the water sources used by those often monk-ish followers. Alright, maybe just one water source, like maybe a spring or a well? Oooooo, wouldn’t it be great if there was a brewery that was named after a water source used by the followers of St. Francis?

Ah, well, what do you know…the luck of the Irish!

The Franciscan Well Brewery in Cork was founded in 1998 by a man named Shane Long on the former site of a Franciscan monastery that dates back to 1219. It’s one of the oldest “craft” breweries in Ireland and has been an important and well-regarded part of that scene. In 2013, the brewery was purchased by Molson Coors, though operations are still helmed by Mr. Long.

I mention all this not because I’m interested in St. Francis or wells, at least not any more or less than what’s considered socially acceptable, but because the Franciscan Well Brewery figures pretty significantly into Jameson’s Caskmates series. Back in 2014, the distillery released, in Ireland only, an experimental expression that consisted of their standard blend finished in ex-Jameson barrels that had been turned over to Franciscan Well to age their stout in. The resulting whiskey was met with enough approval, that a second, much wider release of the Caskmates Stout Edition happened in 2015. A couple of years later, in late 2017, the Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition Irish Whiskey was released. Collaborating once again with the Franciscan Well Brewery, this one has gone through pretty much the same process as the stout edition except the stout has been replaced by an IPA. In this case, Jameson has one again handed a number of barrels over to the brewery, who aged their Chieftain IPA in the barrels for while, and once they were emptied, handed the barrels back over to Jameson. The barrels were then filled with the standard Jameson blended whiskey and aged for an undisclosed amount of time. It’s worth noting that the brewery (and several reviews) describe the Chieftain IPA as a more easy-drinking, approachable, Irish take on the usually heavily hopped, relatively bitter IPA style.

The Nose:  Quite sweet, light-ish, and somewhat different. Floral honey drizzled on ruby red grapefruit pulp, tart applesauce, and a bit of lime. On the less fruity-sweet side of things, there’s some subtle, faintly herbal fresh hop notes, semi-sweet chocolate, and lemon oil. The oak is quite subdued with sanded boards, vanilla, and anise candy.

The Palate:  Lightly creamy mouthfeel with more honeyed sweetness right away. More citrus as well, with lemon zest, pulpy grapefruit, and a hint of Rose’s lime juice. A subtle herbal hoppiness present here as well, but it’s relatively faint and integrated. Some bitter chocolate and a few salted nuts provide a nice counterpoint to bright fruity sweetness. The oak has more tannic bite and spice, with vanilla bean, ginger candies, and white peppercorns.

The Finish:  That bright, honeyed citrus continues for a while, as does the slightly peppery, ginger-y bit of spice.

Thoughts:  Interesting, and ultimately pretty enjoyable. The standard Jameson is a fairly simple and light canvas with which to paint a finish on, so one would assume it wouldn’t take too much to add to its flavor profile. And the IPA Cask manages to not add too much, which actually works out well. While the nose is rather reserved and somewhat uninspiring, the palate makes up for it with a very pleasant, juicy, slightly herbal, citrus-y burst. There are some subtle, hoppy beer notes, but mostly the influence of those finishing casks seems to come through in that faint herbal quality and the bright, fresh-squeezed citrus quality. Lively, easy-drinking stuff that, for around $25-$30/bottle is certainly a worthwhile step up from ye olde basic Jameson.

Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition, Irish Blended, +/-2017

40% ABV

Score:  83

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Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Sazerac and A. Smith Bowman Distillery for the sample.

The A. Smith Bowman Distillery in Fredericksburg, Virginia is a bit of an odd set-up. It can trace its roots back to 1935, when, right after Prohibition ended, a man named Abram Smith Bowman opened up a distillery in what is now Reston. The distillery’s biggest seller was their Virginia Gentleman Bourbon. In 1988, faced with soaring real estate prices so close to Washington D.C., A. Smith Bowman relocated south to Fredericksburg. In 2003, the business was purchased by Sazerac. This is when things start to get a little different.

If I understand it all correctly, Sazerac basically outsources the production, through the first distillation, of all A. Smith Bowman bourbons to its Buffalo Trace distillery. Then that first run spirit is sent to A. Smith Bowman for its second distillation and maturation. Adding to this rather unique approach is Bowman’s interesting array of old and new pot stills (not often used in the bourbon world), and column stills. They also warehouse their barrels by standing them on their ends instead of on their sides (also not often done in the bourbon world.) So, while the mash and first run distillate used might not have much of a distinct character on its own, A. Smith Bowman does put its own unique stamp on the whiskeys it produces.

The Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey continues the distillery’s tradition of naming its bourbons after members of the Bowman family. Isaac Bowman was the great, great-uncle of the distillery’s founder, and was one of four brothers who played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War and early American history in general. After serving as an officer in Clark’s Northwestern Campaign, Bowman was captured in 1779 by a Chickasaw tribe and was presumed dead. Held first as a prisoner, then later reportedly adopted by another tribe, legend has it that Bowman eventually somehow escaped to Cuba and by 1782 had made it safely back to Virginia. After that, he settled down, became a farmer, and had 13 children. To be honest, after a wartime ordeal like Isaac’s, I would think it might be difficult to settle down in such a manner. Although, perhaps after a time like that, maybe moving out to the country, growing some turnips and making a small army of kids is just what the doctor ordered.

In any case, released at the end of 2017, the Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon is part of the A. Smith Bowman standard range, an everyday version of their highly regarded A. Smith Bowman Port Finish release from a couple of years ago. While the official verbage does not give an age, some sources claim it’s in the four to six year old range. The bourbon has been finished in a variety of ex-port casks – some American Oak from several different states and some European Oak from France – for a period of three to six months.

The Nose:  A taut and guardedly complex nose. Those sour apple flavored honey sticks, and cherry cough syrup lead the sweet side of things along with a little navel orange, orgeat syrup, and a hint of vin Santo. Behind that, there’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, chocolate mint leaf, candied nuts, toasted grain, and caramel corn. The oak and spice are relatively subdued with nutmeg, clove and faint star anise..

The Palate:  Quite a unique palate for a bourbon. Initially there’s a bracing mix of cherry juice, oranges, and raisins, with hints of light molasses and dark honey. Lots more nutty chocolate here as well; candied almonds, dark chocolate, salted peanuts, and a hint of mint chocolate. Stronger, more tannic oak notes than the nose – sanded boards. There are more prominent spice notes, too, with cloves, warming cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and black pepper on warm popcorn.

The Finish:  Lengthy, with tart cherry, brown sugar, salted nuts, grippy oak, nutmeg, ginger, and barrel char.

Thoughts:  Quite good and quite unusual, which, seeing as unusual can often be not that good, is quite good and unusual in and of itself. The port finish plays a major part in flavoring this whiskey, but it manages to do so in a fairly refined and integrated way. The fruit and nutty chocolate notes, especially on the palate, are not completely unfamiliar in the bourbon world, but they do stand out as being different while at the same time working well with the more expected oak and spice. I’ve not tried that A. Smith Bowman Port Finish release, but on the few other occasions I’ve tried other wine or port finished bourbons, I’ve usually ended up enjoying them. The Isaac Bowman is no exception. With a relatively reasonable price tag of around $40, definitely recommended.

Isaac Bowman Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Port Barrels, +/-2017

46% ABV

Score:  86


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Tattersall Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey – Review

*Sincere thanks to Tattersall Distilling and Steve Gill for the sample and information.

The inspiration for Tattersall Distilling’s Straight Rye Whiskey is the nearly extinct Monongahela Rye style that begin life in the late 1700’s along the Monongahela River in southwestern Pennsylvania. The Monongahela style was defined by its heavy use of rye, a crop which farmers had an abundance of, but initially no real means of efficient transportation. So, often faced with a surplus, the Northern European settlers of the area did what they always did, they brewed it and they distilled it. Corn was not yet a common crop in the region, so the whiskeys of this time were usually almost all rye with perhaps a bit of malted barley to aid in fermentation. Thus, with its very high rye content, Monongahela ryes were known to be more robust, and grain forward, often quite young, and brash compared to the milder Maryland style rye.

Tattersall co-founders Dan Oskey and Jon Kreidler started dreaming about creating a rye shortly after they began dreaming about creating the distillery. It’s a spirit that they say has been in the plan since day one. Tattersall’s lineup is diverse and numerous compared to most craft distilleries, but most of their stuff goes from the still to the bottle in a relatively short amount of time. This straight rye whiskey on the other hand has taken over two years to create. It is a decidedly Minnesotan product, and while it’s not the first to showcase its local-ness, it is another important demonstration of how much potential the state has to be a unique distilling powerhouse. The grain was grown and harvested from a single farm located in Cambridge, MN, fairly close to the Twin Cities. The spirit was aged in casks made in Minnesota by Black Swan Cooperage from Minnesota-grown oak. The mashbill for this whiskey is 85% rye and 15% malted rye. The use of malted rye is going to produce a different, possibly heavier flavor, and may also help a bit in fermentation. Tattersall’s Straight Rye has been aged for two years in 30 gallon barrels. This initial run (around 2,000 bottles) will only be available in Minnesota with other markets getting in on the action when a larger second batch is comes out in the fall.

The Nose:  Sweetness and grain. The sweeter side is Demerara sugar, tangerine peel, cherry cola, and baked apples with cinnamon. The rye is strong, sturdy and upfront, but not overbearing with toasted grains and rye crackers. Behind that are notes of roasted walnuts, unroasted coffee beans, and a little burnt sugar. There’s a beguiling herbal quality as well, dried herbs and subtle hint of damp, mossy rocks. The oak is present, but not too strong with allspice, vanilla bean, clove, and a faint hint of aniseed.

The Palate:  This has a really nice, creamy mouthfeel. More dark sugars early along with cherry cough syrup, cola, and blood orange. Roasted salted nuts. and baker’s chocolate lead to more strong, integrated rye – toasty grains with herbal, greenish overtones. The oak is stronger and more prominent throughout the palate with astringent, grippy tannins, sharp-edged wood, vanilla bean, Vietnamese cinnamon, young ginger, and a little clove.

The Finish:  That dark sugar and cola sweetness is quickly taken over by the tannic oak, and toasted, herbal rye. Peppery toasted grain lingers the longest.

Thoughts:  This grew quite a bit on me in the span of one glass. Initially, it seemed young and reserved, but as it quickly opened up, it became much more expressive and complex. Given co-founder Dan Oskey’s lauded career as a bartender/cocktail guru, it should come as no surprise that this is well-executed stuff and really pretty satisfying on several levels. True to style, it’s youthful and brash, but also fairly balanced and smooth. It certainly holds its own as a straight sipper, is quite nice over ice, and thanks to its strong rye character and high ABV, also makes for a dynamic base spirit in cocktails. Tattersall has picked a style of whiskey that suits both their distillate and, probably, their desire to get a whiskey on the shelves relatively quickly. They could easily have gone the route of so many other craft distilleries and bottled this closer to 40% and priced it for $50 or more. Instead, with its relatively high ABV and relatively low price of around $35, the Tattersall Rye is a rare and special thing in the craft spirit world…a damn good first whiskey that’s well worth the money. Definitely recommended, especially if you’re a Minnesotan.

Tattersall Distilling Straight Rye Whiskey, +/- 2018

50% ABV

Score: 85


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1792 Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Review

Sincere thanks to Sazerac and Barton Brands for the sample.

In 2002, Barton Brands, which at the time was owned by Constellation Brands, debuted their Ridgewood Reserve 1792 Bourbon. Shortly after, Brown-Forman howled in disapproval and demanded, litigiously, satisfaction. They claimed that packaging and marketing of the Ridgewood Reserve was suspiciously too close to that of their successful Woodford Reserve brand. According to the always excellent Sipp’n Corn, Brown-Forman Corp. v. Barton Inc., No. 3:03-cv-00648-JBC (W.D. Ky.) was a pretty brief affair as far as these kinds of things go. It seems the Barton/Constellation marketing team pulled the name Ridgewood out of thin air in an admitted effort to capitalize on Woodford’s success. It’s mildly interesting and not at all germane to the issue to note that the Chicago booze baron and “founder” of Barton Brands, Oscar Getz, claimed to also have pulled the Barton name out of thin air when he bought the Tom Moore Distillery in the late 1940’s and renamed the place. Lots of names floating around in thin air apparently.

Anyway, Brown Forman and Woodford Reserve pleaded a good case, and shortly after it began, Ridgewood Reserve 1792 Bourbon was done for…or at its label was done for. The bottle shape was similar to Woodford Reserve’s, as was the design, and then there was the use of the words “wood” and “reserve” together. The court found Barton’s effort all a bit too obvious and intentional. By the end of 2004, the bottles of this particular bourbon now all read Ridgemont Reserve 1792 Bourbon. The lesson here I guess is that courts of law and litigious marketing types get antsy about the word “wood,” but couldn’t really give a shit about the word “mont.”

In 2009 Constellation Brands sold Barton Brands and the Tom Moore/Barton distillery to Sazerac. In 2014, Sazerac grew tired of the Ridgemont Reserve part of the name and changed it to simply just 1792 Bourbon. (1792 being the year Kentucky became a United State, by the way.) Ok, perhaps it’s inaccurate to say they got tired of it. In recent years, the brand has expanded beyond just the one bourbon, so it made sense to drop the “reserve” part on all the new expressions, and they also came to their senses and dropped the meaningless “Ridgemont” part as well. In the last three years or so, the 1792 line has introduced a Sweet Wheat Bourbon, a Port Finish Bourbon, a High-Rye Bourbon, a single barrel expression, and a full-proof expression. Most recently, at the end of 2017, the 1792 Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon hit the shelves. This one does not carry an age statement, but as it’s a bottled-in-bond whiskey, we know it’s at least four years old. The conventional wisdom is that it’s somewhere in the four to eight year old range. That bottled-in-bond status also lets us know that the whiskeys used were created in one distilling season, that it was bottled at 50% ABV, and was matured under that bastion of respectability, the government bonded warehouse.

The Nose:  A nice mix of sweetness and spice. There’s quite a bit of warm, fresh caramel corn and mildly pithy orange. Behind that, spiced apple sauce, sticky, slightly smoky vanilla bean, cinnamon rolls, and toasted coconut. The rye comes through with a nice herbal spiciness and just a bit of toasted grain. The oak feels rough-ish and solid with more cinnamon, ginger, a hint of mint, and a little star anise rounding up the spice notes.

The Palate:  A fairly lush, creamy mouthfeel that begins both zippy and sweet. There’s caramel, dark orange blossom honey, burnt sugar, vanilla syrup, and juicy oranges. After that, notes of unsweetened chocolate, even a bit of coffee grounds, burnt almonds, and sharp, herbal rye. The oak has more tannic grip here, and is a little less sharp than the nose though no less sturdy. There’s hot cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and a little clove.

The Finish:  Oaky, spicy and lingering with drying cinnamon and clove, a bit of barrel char and a little oiled popcorn pan fading to the end.

Thoughts:  Ah, who doesn’t love a really good bottled-in-bond bourbon? I certainly do, and I certainly enjoyed this one. In some ways this could almost be thought of as the standard 1792 bourbon with the volume turned up, but that would be unfairly simplifying things. This one does share much of that core expression’s flavor profile, but I found it just that much more realized, complex, and integrated. At around $35-$40, this seems like decent value and a very reasonable escalation from the standard 1792 expression. It’s great to see a newish brand like this returning to the decidedly oldish bottled-in-bond, style, that’s a very welcome trend in the bourbon world these days. Definitely Recommended.

1792 Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2017

50% ABV

Score:  86


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Yellowstone 2017 Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon – Review

2017-LTD-3D-Comp-TALL-1*Sincere thanks to Limestone Branch Distillery and Common Ground PR for the sample.

Short and sweet and to the point this one will be. Luxco and Limestone Branch Distillery’s revitalization of the Yellowstone brand has created not just a great story, but some great bourbon as well. If you’d like, you can catch up here on all the juicy details with my write-up of last years limited edition Yellowstone. Suffice it to say, an old, storied brand had fallen into squalor but then was, in part, turned over to the distilling descendants of the man who created the brand, and given a beautiful new look and the many steps up in quality that it deserved.

The 2016 Yellowstone Limited Edition was comprised of both 12 year old and 7 year old bourbons which were then married and finished for a period of time in new wine barrels that were toasted rather than charred. The Yellowstone 2017 Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon is similar to last year’s model with one exciting addition. The 12 year old and 7 year old whiskeys are joined this year by some of the first four year old straight bourbon produced at the Limestone Branch distillery. It took a while, but the Stephen and Paul Beam are now actually producing the whiskey for a brand a distant relative established more than 140 years ago. As someone who enjoys the history of all this almost as much as I enjoy the whiskey…I find this fairly satisfying. Also of note, Limestone Branch had the toasted barrels from 2016’s edition sent to Kelvin Cooperage where a light char was added to the toast. These same barrels were then used to finish the 2017 edition…a unique final step to be sure. This roughly 8000 bottle limited edition has been packaged in the same excellent David Cole Creative design work as the 2016 model and was released in October of 2017.

The Nose:  Wow. Heady, rich, and rugged…and no, I’m not referring to myself. While this has its sweet side, it’s the darker earthier notes that shine. There’s Demerara sugar, spiced orange, and a little authentic butterscotch. Close behind that, there’s smoky vanilla bean, roasted chestnuts, faint pipe tobacco,  and a little oiled leather. The wood is present and strong. but not at all overbearing – both old polished oak and new sawn boards with nicely integrated tannins. Spice notes of Vietnamese cinnamon, sweet clove, and Tellicherry peppercorns round things out.

The Palate:  More wow. Almost instantly, there’s a lively, wonderful depth to the palate. More dark sugars, perhaps even burnt crème brûlée, along with more spiced juicy orange and a bit of dried red fruits. There’s more earthy vanilla bean, and some toasted walnuts. Leather and tobacco leaf notes carry over from the nose, but they’re more subdued on the palate. A bit more spicy rye comes through here, but it’s still fairly subtle. The oak is solid and weighty, but again well-integrated. Mouth-watering, grippy tannins, clove, hot cinnamon, a little nutmeg, crushed peppercorns, and charred wood lead to the finish.

The Finish:  A bit of burnt caramel at first, but mostly there’s just lingering notes of old oak and leather, slightly peppery, with a bit of slightly burnt popcorn and barrel char towards the very end.

Thoughts:  This is a beautiful, expressive, complex bourbon. There’s a unique, earthy complexity here that was instantly appealing. This manages to be robust and rugged, and nuanced and composed at the same time. Its barrel-forward flavor profile makes it feel a little older than it is, though it also maintains enough of a youthful brightness to keep things balanced. An exciting, satisfying, well executed piece of whiskey-making. Highly recommended.

Yellowstone 2017 Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/- 2017

50.5% ABV

Score:  89


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