Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Bardstown Bourbon Co.
Distillery: Green River Distilling Co.
Release Date: March 2023 (Ongoing)
Age: NAS (Aged at least 4 years per TTB regulations)
Mashbill: 70% Corn, 21% Wheat, 9% 6-Row Barley
Color: Light Yellow Gold
MSRP: $35 (2023)
Green River Straight Bourbon is crafted on the historic Green River campus in Owensboro, Kentucky. Over its storied past, numerous brands have been made there, including Ezra Brooks, Mellow Corn, Medley Brothers, Old Medley, Five Brothers, and Kentucky Beau. According to Green River, Terressentia Corporation purchased the distillery in 2014 and began renovation. In 2016, the distillery laid down their first barrels. In 2020, Green River Distilling Co. returned to its original name, and in 2022 the company was purchased by Bardstown Bourbon Company.
The company, which traditionally had smaller distribution for its standard bourbon, expanded to 25 states in 2023. To mark the occasion, Green River Wheated Bourbon was released. It’s a near mirror image of its rye-based bourbon which has a mashbill of 70% Corn, 21% Winter Rye, 9% Malted 2 and 6-Row Barley, Green River Wheated Bourbon will be available in the same markets as its counterpart. More information can be found in the company’s press release.
A gentle softness is apparent as you take an initial inhale. Scents reminiscent of freshly baked bread hit first followed by creamed corn. Inhaling deeper pulls forward a fruit salad full of crisp summer fruits. It’s an interesting and pleasant combination, but one that is decisively soft almost to a fault. An acceptable way to open the sip, however, you’ll be hard-pressed to linger before moving on.
The palate carries over the same degree of gentleness. Mellow notes of sweet caramel and vanilla rest atop a bed of faint leather and soft charred oak. Searching further brings about notes of wheat grain and light peppercorn spice. A hint of corn oil rounds things out. It’s a simpler combination of flavors, but they play out nicely and add an easy drinkability factor to the bourbon.
A quick burst of white peppercorn spice is followed by a soft wheat note. Undulating heat is present but never billows up enough to be overwhelming. Baked bread and gentle spice linger for a while, providing an appreciated length at the expense of depth. Overall it’s in line with the rest of the sip and closes things out neatly.
While wheated bourbons still hold a minority market share compared to their rye-based counterparts, they’ve slowly started to come into their own right over the last few years. Big brands like Maker’s Mark, Weller Special Reserve, and Larceny may be more well known, but smaller brands both inside and outside of Kentucky have started to release more wheat-based bourbons. Rye may add a nice spicy note to a bourbon, however for some, a gentler, easy sipping bourbon is preferred, and that’s where wheated bourbons shine.
Yet, that doesn’t mean that gentler bourbons also can’t stand out. A great wheated bourbon will deliver full flavored sip that you didn’t realize were possible, such as our #1 whiskey of 2022Larceny Barrel Proof Batch C922. A good wheated bourbon will give you pause on its flavors, while an average wheated bourbon tends to just be drinkable due to its softer flavor profile, but never really stands out in any one area. Green River Wheated Bourbon falls squarely in the last category. Its sip holds no faults, but it also doesn’t remain memorable after putting down the glass. It may be its proof or the fact that it only contains 20% wheat, but the fact of the matter is, it just exists more than it does delight.
Consumers have slowly become numb to the ever increasing price of bourbon. Each new release, especially from Kentucky, tends to creep higher and higher with $100+ bourbons gathering less and less eye rolls and more and more sighs of acceptance. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Green River Wheated Bourbon come in at a price of $35. The company could have easily priced this higher based on current market trends, but instead attached a consumer friendly price to it.
As stated throughout the review, this bourbon won’t stand out in any given area, but it’s also priced accordingly and if it shines in any area, it’s here. Its price point allows those who are looking to try more wheated bourbons an opportunity to do so without breaking the bank. Combined with an incredibly easy drinking sip, the brand deserves a nod of affirmation for delivering a bottle that can be appreciated by consumers simply for what it is. I wish more companies would take note and follow the pricing example that Green River is setting with this release.
An easy sipping bourbon that won’t break the bank, but also won’t leave a memorable impression.
Green River Wheated Bourbon’s sip carries with it a gentleness that both holds it back and also adds to its drinkability all at once. No one component will stop and make you go “wow,” instead each part of the sip gets its job done in a straightforward manner. It’s reminiscent of the company’s rye-based bourbon but just lacks the slight oomph that the rye grain imparts on the sip. However, it also has the effect of making you wonder where your glass of bourbon just went, as it’s so easy to continue sipping.
While distilleries strive to knock it out of the park with each of their releases, the fact is, that being average is also OK. If you can deliver an easy drinking sip at an affordable price, you’re doing a service to the consumer, and Green River Wheated Bourbon does exactly that.