Wheated Bourbon

Review: Ragged Branch Wheated Bourbon

RaggedBranch_MainBottleWheated bourbon can be hit or miss for me. Sometimes it’s beautiful and complex.  Otherwise, wheated bourbon can be a bit sweet and simplistic.  In the case of Ragged Branch’s new wheated bourbon, it falls somewhere in-between.

A true farm-to-bottle venture, the Virginia-based farm distillery has distilled this whisky using grains grown on its land in a small copper pot still.  And unlike a lot of craft distilleries, Ragged Branch has matured this 4-year-old wheated bourbon in full size, 53-gallon barrels instead of smaller ones.

Seeing as the distillery, founded in 2014, is only producing about a barrel a day, quality seems to be top-of-mind.

Dave Pickerell serves as the distillery’s Master Distiller, but he more or less keeps them on course a few times a year as he also oversees or consults with several other brands.  Pickerell’s a busy guy.  I’m a fan of most of his work, so I was excited to try this expression.

Bottled at 90 proof, Ragged Branch wheated bourbon comes from a mash bill of 66% corn, 17% wheat, and 17% malted barley.  That’s a higher percentage of malt typically used in a bourbon.  What does that mean for flavor?  Let’s give it a taste.

The nose is pleasant, with a sweet corn and vanilla leading the way.  There’s a slightly “green” grain note, but it’s mostly masked by a bit of spiced caramel and cinnamon.  On the palate, loads of butterscotch and vanilla fade into a touch of spice, namely cinnamon sugar.  That youngish grain note is also present here, but doesn’t hinder the tasting experience one bit.  That big butterscotch note carries over into the medium length finish.

The small distillery should be proud of this release.  Though it’s not terribly complex, it makes up with a rich and inviting butterscotch-led flavor profile.  I find it nicely balanced – not too sweet, not too spicy.  It does have a slightly young character, but doesn’t taste harsh.  At the end of the day, Ragged Branch Distillery has crafted a nice sipping whiskey.  Not too shabby for $49.99.  7/10


Thanks to Ragged Branch for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond 9-Year-Old Bourbon (Fall 2018)

img_0711This fall, Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond decanter series sees its second release as a 9-year-old bourbon. The bottle is inspired by an original 1950s Old Fitz decanter. It’s a beautiful bottle.

The initial 11-year-old release received mixed, but generally positive, reactions. I haven’t tasted it, so I can’t chime in just yet.  However, Heaven Hill whiskies have never disappointed me and I do have a healthy sample of the new 9-year-old release in front of me, so…

The nose here is classic wheater, with hints of sweet kettle corn, spice, orange peel, dark chocolate, and a touch of toasted oak.  On the palate, the whiskey is beautifully balanced and carries its 9-year age statement with class.  On entry, a velvety wave of sweet caramel corn washes over the tongue, developing notes of creamy vanilla and soft cinnamon and nutmeg.  A bit of oak and dark roast coffee arrives late and right before the finish.  The hearty 100 proof almost guarantees a warm finish, and this iteration of Old Fitz doesn’t disappoint.  The medium-long finish leaves behind notes of caramelized orange peel and oak.

Heaven Hill has crafted a very solid release in this 9-year-old bonded Old Fitzgerald.  Though not the most complex bourbon I’ve tasted recently, this whiskey does hit all the right wheated bourbon notes to make for a throughly enjoyable pour.  For the suggested price of $89.99, I’d gladly reach for a bottle.  8.5/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Col. E.H. Taylor Seasoned Wood Bourbon Review

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Photo courtesy of Buffalo Trace Distillery.

Buffalo Trace Distillery just announced the eighth addition to the Col. E.H. Taylor line – Seasoned Wood.  Just like its brethren, Seasoned Wood is bottled-in-bond, which means it’s bottled at 100 proof and is at least four years old (among other things).  According to press materials, this release is “aged well over a decade”.  This the first wheated bourbon in the Taylor lineup.  Seasoned Wood is a one-time, limited release.

What is seasoned wood exactly?  According to Buffalo Trace:

The barrels in this release underwent a variety of special seasoning processes,   including barrels made from staves that were immersed in an enzyme rich bath with water heated to 100 degrees.  After spending time in this proprietary solution, these staves were then placed into kilns and dried until they reached an ideal humidity level for crafting into barrels.  Other staves were seasoned outdoors for six months, and still others were left outdoors for a full 12 months before being made into barrels and sent to Buffalo Trace Distillery to be filled and aged.  All barrel staves were seasoned, dried, and crafted at Independent Stave Company, who consulted on this project with the premiere expert on oak maturation, Dr. James Swan.

Onto my tasting notes:

The aromatic nose leads with a strong honey note.  Dried cherries, fresh orange peel, and a floral note follow.  In an odd way, it sort of smells like an Old Fashioned cocktail.  There is little to no alcohol vapor to speak of, considering this is a 100 proof bourbon.  The entry is soft, with spiced honey starting things off.  That citrus note and dried fruit from the nose also finds its way to the palate, cutting right through the creamy mouthfeel.  Some oak is present providing a touch of astringency in the back-palate.  The finish is long and warm, leaving citrus, baking spice and honey behind to slowly fade away.  It leaves your mouth watering for more.

You can guess I’m a fan of this one.  Seasoned Wood is a very welcome addition to the good-to-excellent range of Col. E.H. Taylor whiskies.  It’s overall softer but richer profile stands out among others in the lineup.  This is a very well executed bourbon from Buffalo Trace that receives a high recommendation.  Seasoned Wood will be available starting late March for a suggested retail priced of $69.99.  The fact that it is limited won’t help your chances of finding a bottle.  In the rare instance you do see one, pick it up.

(Note: A small review sample was provided by Buffalo Trace.)