TNT Blog roll
Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon 2019

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Limestone Branch Distilling Co.

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: August 2019

Proof: 101

Age: 9 Years (Press release states it also includes 12 year old bourbon)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $100 (2019)

Official Website

Limestone Branch Distilling Co. has impressed me with their limited release bourbons over the past three years. Over this time they’ve reused, and more interestingly, recharred the same barrels each year to finish their bourbon for their limited releases. Surprisingly, this didn’t create a miss-mash of convoluted flavors, but instead created a warm and potent-tasting whiskey that were some of my favorite finished whiskeys each year they were released.

In 2019, they took a different approach, and according to the company, poached some of their best 9 and 12 year old barrels to create this year’s blend.

Nose
: Cherry, vanilla custard, oak, and light orange citrus. Warming and pleasant, with a gentle intensity.

Palate
: Oak, dark chocolate, burnet caramel, dark sweet fruit, and leather. It has a soft delivery with a thin mouthfeel and tastes less than its stated proof.

Finish
: Spice, oak, vanilla, and cinnamon. Medium length finish that is slightly dry with a slow ramp up of heat.

This is a straightforward blend that presents its flavors well, is easy-drinking, but also might not necessarily blow you away. It definitely leans on the darker, heavier side of the flavor wheel with its oak, chocolate, and spice. Thankfully there are veins of sweetness throughout that provide a sudden and welcomed contrast. In any other year, this year’s Yellowstone Limited Edition would probably make more of a splash. It just comes at a time when many other blends have been hitting it out of the park (Little Book Chapter 3, Lux Row Double Barrel, and Four Roses Limited Edition Small Batch). Still, that doesn’t diminish what this release does well. It delivers a nicely constructed, and gentle overall intensity bourbon that makes it a really nice sipper. Approximately 12,500 bottle release.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Limestone Branch Distilling Co. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.  

Written By: Eric
Old Pepper Rye - Finest Kentucky Oak

Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Heavily Toasted Barrels

Company: James Pepper Distilling Co.

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 116

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $80 (2019)

Official Website

The Old Pepper Distillery is rich with history. Assigned DSP-KY-5, its roots date back to 1780 when the distillery was first established. James E. Pepper was a third generation distiller, and operated the distillery until 1939 when he passed away. In 1958, the distillery fell on hard times and shut down. In 2008, Amir Peay of Georgetown Trading Co. acquired rights to the brand and began efforts to bring it back to life. In the meantime, whiskeys have been sourced from MGP in Indiana.  

Nose:
Orange peel, black pepper, and black licorice give way to a potent rye spice. Balanced in its delivery and quintessentially rye.

Palate:
Ginger root and orange peel combined with young oak. Full bodied and nicely developed.

Finish:
Black peppercorns, rye spice, and a rush of cinnamon. Sweeter notes of cotton candy and caramel develop on the backend. Long.

This particular release is from batch number K02. It’s surprising how developed and balanced it is for being only three years old. While there are plenty of young MGP ryes on the market, exceptional ones are still few and far between. This bottle fits the bill. Well-rounded and nicely balanced, it surprises with just how good it is for its age. The secondary finishing in heavily toasted barrels might have something to do with that, and further helps distinguish this bottling from the vast MGP 95% rye crowd. While the history behind James E. Pepper is interesting and I’m excited to taste what comes out of the restored distillery in the future, this bottle of sourced whiskey stands on its own nonetheless.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
James E. Pepper Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to it with no strings attached.

Written By: Nick
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C919

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: November 2019

Proof: 136.8

Age: 12 Years

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley

MSRP: $60 (2019)

Official Website

Heaven Hill returns to form with this latest batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Coming off the heels of Batch B519 - the brand’s lowest proof release at 122.2 - the final batch of 2019 is a monster in more ways than one.  

Nose: Heavy vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and oak. Nothing shockingly unique, but overall sweet and punchy.

Palate
: Bold oak, sweet brown sugar, burnt caramel, and rich vanilla.  

Finish
: Cinnamon, rich seasoned oak, toffee, and a pinch of leather.

Because it’s “bourbon hunting season” and many will be left empty-handed, if you come across this batch, it’s a perfect fill-in for that limited release you really wanted, but couldn’t get. If you’re a high proof high flavor lover, this holds especially true this year with George T. Stagg being the least "George T. Staggy" it's ever been.  In many ways, Batch C919 is an all around better bourbon too. It may not feature that classic Stagg flavor (ironically neither does this year’s Stagg), but does an excellent job delivering a rich and flavorful traditional bourbon flavor profile. Yes it’s hot, but it's not the proof doing the heavy work here. It’s flavor profile manages to outshine its proof. That’s not always easy to do when you’re 136.8 proof.

Once again, Heaven Hill releases another solid batch of Elijah Craig, which has to be one of the most consistent brands on the market. Sure there are batches that are better than others, but you really can’t go wrong picking one of these up - especially this final batch of 2019.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Heaven Hill. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Eric
Bourbon & Vine

Classification: Bourbon Finished with a Cabernet Steeped French Oak Spiral

Company: Oak & Eden

Distillery: Undisclosed (Sourced from a number of distilleries including MGP)

Proof: 90

Age: NAS (2 years per company website)

Mashbill: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Malted Barley

MSRP: $65 (2019)

Official Website

Oak & Eden was founded in April 2017 by brothers Joe and Jamie Giildenzopf and Brad Neathery. In May 2018 they launched their first product, and now offer six different whiskeys. Each is finished in a unique way - a five inch long wood spiral, which the company refers to as the “Spire,” is added to each bottle to finish it. For Bourbon & Vine, the spire is made of French Oak and rested in cabernet sauvignon for four weeks before being placed in the bottle. Oak & Eden does not disclose where they source their whiskeys from besides stating on their website that they use a “handful of carefully selected distilleries in America” and then go on to say “namely MGP."

Nose:
Luxardo cherries, dark red wine, seasoned oak

Palate:
Dark fruit, cherries, plums, raisins, seasoned oak, wet bark, buttery caramel; rich, velvety mouthfeel  

Finish:
Dark fruit, seasoned wood, and wet bark linger; light rye spice comes into play as other flavors trail off; rich overall

In 2014, a Kickstarter for Whiskey Elements by Time & Oak raised over $195,000 from over 5,000 backers for a concept that was effectively an oak stick designed to be inserted into a bottle of whiskey to further age it. Time & Oak currently sells this product and states it’s a way to “enhance your whiskey in as little as 24 hours.” Somewhat surprisingly no one had taken the next step of adding an aging stick to a bottle as part of the brand’s identity, until Oak & Eden. While I haven’t taken the time to fully understand Time & Oak’s six patent filings and how they might overlap with Oak & Eden’s products, they are effectively a similar concept in the sense of inserting an oak stick into the whiskey to enhance its flavor.

In the case of Bourbon & Vine, the wine finish is so prominent and the color so dark and red, it seems reasonable to assume the spire acted like a sponge while it soaked in cabernet sauvignon for four weeks. This trapped wine was then released into the bourbon when the spire sat in the bottle. I can only draw conclusions with respect to how much additional influence the actual oak itself had outside of transferring wine to the bottle. Maker’s 46 comes to mind, which is the standard Maker’s Mark finished with seared French Oak staves within the barrel, prior to bottling. Similar flavor notes are in play, and incidentally the first comparison that came to mind when I tasted Bourbon & Vine was the original release of barrel proof Maker’s 46.

Bourbon & Vine will certainly draw criticism from skeptics. It has flaws, and I’m not convinced adding staves (of anything) is the ideal way to finish a bourbon or whiskey, and that includes my experiences with Maker’s 46 and the Maker’s Private Select Program. But considering the onslaught of similar whiskeys released to market, it is refreshing every time I see something notably different.

I admittedly enjoyed Bourbon & Vine a lot more than I thought I would. It’s not perfect, but it packs a lot of flavor and manages to keep the off-putting notes in check enough to look past them. It got me thinking about how this might taste with an older base bourbon, as well as how the bottle I have might taste a week, month, or even a year from now as the spire continues to influence the liquid inside the bottle.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Oak & Eden. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to it with no strings attached.

Written By: Nick
Four Gate Whiskey Batch 2: Outer Loop Orbit

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks

Company: Four Gate Whiskey Company

Distillery: Undisclosed

Release Date: September 2019 (Kentucky and Tennessee Only)

Proof: 120.1

Age: Blend of 5.5 and 12 year bourbon

Mashbill: 5.5 Year: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley - 12 Year: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley

MSRP: $200 (2019)

Bill Straub, founder and Editor-In-Chief of ModernThirst.com, and Bob D’Antoni started Four Gate Whiskey Company in 2018 with the intention of exclusively being a non-distiller producer (NDP). Their plan isn’t like many other NDPs who sell sourced whiskey while their own whiskey comes of age. They don’t have a distillery, and they don’t plan to distill. Instead, they are focusing on sourcing barrels to create very small batches - for example Batch 1: 1,732 bottles, Batch 2: 2,402 bottles - and finishing them in a unique way. The company plans to release 2-3 batches per year.

Their plan also includes consulting with the “best-regarded experts in the field on the effects of barrels” for their input on selecting barrels and blends. They have already worked with Brian Haara, aka Sipp’n Corn (author of Bourbon Justice: How Whiskey Law Shaped America), Owen Powell (founder of Louisville Bourbon Hounds), and Louisville Bourbon Hounds administrator and experienced barrel picker, Craig Rupprecht.

Four Gate Whiskey Batch 2: Outer Loop Orbit Tasting Notes:

Nose
: Gin, concentrated lime juice, orange, fresh cut wood.

Palate
: Citrus, gin, Orange Curaçao, mild oak, light cinnamon.

Finish
: Hot, punchy, mildly dry, lemon, mild oak, juniper.

Overall
: Wow this is interesting. On paper this seems like a bad idea, but surprisingly, a lot of fun to drink. Was it $200 fun? Probably not, but if you’re looking for unique, this is exactly what you’ll get. I’m surprised Four Gate bottled this at such a high proof as it comes across very hot, and its intense gin influence is definitely an acquired taste. Speaking of, I’m quite taken aback by the intensity of the barrel finish. Throughout the sip, very little of the bourbon manages to pull through the Orange Curaçao-gin finish. Perhaps a better balance between its parts would help pull this together a bit more. I would have loved to have tasted this with more oak and vanilla pulling through against the heavy citrus. Yet as is, this is about as unique as they come.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Four Gate Whiskey Company. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Eric
Driftless Glen Whiskeys

Driftless Glen Distillery was founded by Brian and Reneé Bemis, and is located it in the Baraboo Valley of Wisconsin. This is near a region known as the Driftless Area which escaped the flattening effects of glaciation during the ice age. The result is an area that is in stark contrast to the flatness of the broader Midwest and central Plains regions. According to the company, the region is “rich with peat, bogs, an amazing aquifer, and uncommon sandy soil for our grains to grow in,” which provides a favorable environment for spirit production.

The whiskeys come in impressive custom designed bottles that feature embossed glass fingerprints of the company’s owners on either side, “Driftless Glen” on the front, and the company’s windmill icon on the back. Contrasting the beautiful bottle, is the distillery’s label that is largely unimpactful and is in need of a revamp.

The company produces all of their whiskey from locally sourced grain and currently sports a 4+ year age statement. They age their whiskey in 25 and 30 gallon barrels in order to accelerate maturation. This is probably why their whiskeys feature a darker-than-expected color.

The company also allows private selections of their products in single barrel form and at barrel proof. Impressively, the price is reasonable for a craft distillery where such attributes are usually come at a premium price. Seelbach’s sent us three of their current private selections to taste and provide our tasting notes for.

Driftless Glen Bourbon Single Barrel


Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 125

Age: 4 Years, 2 Months

Mashbill: 60% Corn, 20% Rye, 20% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Pecan, dish soap, mustiness, wet rock

Palate: Butter pecan pie, corn, walnut, cinnamon, slight clove  

Finish: Oak, leather, dark chocolate

Overall
: The nose is certainly unique. It’s not so strong that it detracts from the rest of the sip,  but is also hard to forget. The palate also has a unique tasting element that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m not sure if it’s the result of a bunch of different flavors interacting with each other, or one note on its own. In the end, this is interesting bourbon to say the least. It clearly won’t be for everyone, and will appeal to the more adventurous type.  


Driftless Glen Rye Single Barrel


Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 125.2

Age: 4 Years, 3 Months

Mashbill: 75% Rye, 25% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Youthful grain, light rye spice, strawberry cream, minty pine

Palate: Sugar cookies, peanuts, orange marmalade    

Finish: Hot, mixed fruits, rye spice

Overall
: It comes off a bit hot and does better when a few drops of water are added. I enjoyed the flavor profile quite a bit, but it’s slightly marred by youthful grain notes.


Driftless Glen First Marriage Rye (A blend of two barrels)


Classification: Rye

Company: Driftless Glen

Distillery: Driftless Glen

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 123 Proof

Age: 4 Years, 3 Months

Mashbill: 75% Rye, 25% Malted Barley

MSRP: $58 (2019)

Official Website


Nose: Roses, green candied apples, fresh mint, grain

Palate: Caramel creams, rye grain, candy corn

Finish: Mellow oak

Overall
: It comes down a little hot on the finish but overall this is a sweet and easy drinking rye. Its flavor profile is on the simpler side, but it works well combining caramel creams and candy corn against its hot oaky finish.

The samples used for this review were provided at no cost courtesy of Seelbach’s. We thank them for the samples and for allowing us to review them with no strings attached

Written By: Eric
Barrell Bourbon Single Barrel - Dark Spirits Society

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Barrell Craft Spirits

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 108.64

Age: 14 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Includes corn, rye, and malted barley)

MSRP: $99 (2019)

Official Website

Barrell Bourbon’s Joe Beatrice and Tripp Stimson have mastered batched blends. Each of their releases offers something different than the last. In line with general flavor characteristics but in a league of their own, are their single barrel offerings. Their single barrel program has taken off over the last few years, and we’ve been fortunate to have tried quite a few, so far selecting three bourbons for our Single Barrel Club. One was released about a year ago, and the next few will be released as a pair.

We’ve partnered with Mash&Grape for each of our Barrell single barrel picks, as they’re also fans of what the folks at Barrell are doing, regularly carry their products, and work really well with our subscriber group shipping to most states. This particular bottle in review is not released as part of our Single Barrel Club, but rather is one of the first single barrel releases in a new experience Mash&Grape has worked to cultivate, The Dark Spirits Society.

Cinnamon, creme brulee, and toasted oak comprise a rather inviting nose. The sip is medium-bodied. Spice erupts on the tongue, with vanilla, cornbread, and toasted marshmallow in tow. The spice lingers in the finish, which turns slightly dry with hints of vanilla and burnt brown sugar sweetness.

At just over 108 proof, this finds itself on the lower end of the barrel proof spectrum, but is about average for a Barrell single barrel. A healthy dose of spice keeps it robust, but it otherwise drinks easily as I found myself sipping through multiple glasses without breaking a sweat. If you enjoy Barrell Bourbon but seek a more easy-drinking experience, this pick is for you. As of this writing, it is still available.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Mash&Grape. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to it with no strings attached.

Written By: Nick
Easy Rider Bourbon

Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Company: Hood River Distillers

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 80

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $25 (2019)

Official Website

Easy Rider Bourbon was recently reintroduced into the market by Hood River Distillers. The company acquired the brand in 2018 as a replacement to fill the hole left in the company portfolio after selling the Pendleton Whisky brand to Becle, S.A.B. de C.B., (the parent company of the Jose Cuervo line of tequilas) in 2017. Easy Rider is a sourced four year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, which is then blended and proofed down with glacier-fed spring water from Mount Hood. The company bills it as being great for shots or mixing.

Its nose is on the lighter side with corn, vanilla, graham crackers, and an odd yet satisfying hint of spearmint. As can be expected for an 80 proof bourbon, you won’t find any bursts of flavor on the palate. Instead it mainly consists of  hints of light vanilla and corn oil. The finish is short with new oak, corn, and white pepper making brief appearances.

Easy Rider’s lower proof has a drastic impact on the sip and does this bourbon a disservice. It’s an easy drinking affair, albeit one that is lacking in flavor and is quickly forgettable.It’s priced accordingly however, and at $25 you don’t walk away expecting more for your money.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Hood River Distillers. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Jordan
Doc.52 Cask Finished Series: Corsair Ryemageddon

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in a Rye Barrel

Company: Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More

Distillery: Undisclosed Tennessee Distillery

Release Date: August 2019

Proof: 114.2

Age: 14 years, 6 months with an additional month in a 15 gallon Corsair Ryemageddon barrel

Mashbill: 84% Corn, 8% Rye, 8% Malted Barley

MSRP: $90 (2019)

Official Website

We profiled Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More in 2018 about how the liquor store took to creating their own whiskey brand in order to stand out in the ever-crowded retail market. Since then, they have released a number of single barrels and one-off batches, including a unique tasting bourbon and rye blended whiskey. They’re finishing 2019 strong with a number of new releases, but there was one release that sounded particularly interesting: a whiskey finished in a Corsair Ryemageddon barrel.

The whiskey opens with a prickly rye scent that is followed by strong orange pop. Further scents of vanilla, oak, and mixed berries gently weave through this whiskey’s bright and punchy aroma. Its palate is equally as dizzying, as a rush of flavors hit all at once. It’s a bold front of rye spice, orange chocolate bar, brandied cherries, and spicy vanilla. The finish leaves a mild dry aftertaste, with an overall flavor profile that reminds me of a Sazerac cocktail.

While finishing American whiskey in wine barrels was considered quite unique, it has become more commonplace and producers continue to push boundaries finishing in rum, cognac, toasted oak, and many other types of barrels.. In keeping with this experimental trend, finishing in Corsair Ryemageddon barrels has proved to be a surprisingly fun and out of the ordinary tasting experience. It’s interesting to taste how much the whiskey changed in flavor for only being finished for one month. I had a chance to try the base whiskey pre-finishing which I found to be good in its own right. It’s sweet, fruit-forward and nicely oaked profile proved to be a good recipient of Ryemageddon’s intense barrel influence.

With only 66 bottles available in this first edition of Doc.52’s Cask Finished Series, all of the bottles are sold out. Ryan Gill, general manager of Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More said there are more cask finished editions on the way, with the next being a Port barrel finished in October. They’re also interestingly experimenting with a honey finish using a Corsair Triple Smoke barrel.

Despite the Ryemageddon finish being sold out, we wanted to highlight this interesting path Doc’s is exploring with their barrel finishing. Partly as a non-distiller producer finishing in a barrel from another whiskey distillery, but also the truly unique tasting whiskey they created by taking a common Tennessee Whiskey (presumingly Dickel), and finishing it in a one-of-a-kind Ryemageddon barrel. This barrel finishing reveals there is still a lot of depth left to explore in this category.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Doc’s Wine, Spirits & More. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Eric
Penelope Four Grain Barrel Strength Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Penelope Bourbon

Distillery: MGP

Proof: 116.6

Age: 2 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed blend of three bourbon mashbills comprised of four grains (Corn, Wheat, Rye, and Malted Barley)

MSRP: $55 (2019)

Official Website

Penelope Bourbon was created in 2018 by lifelong friends Mike Paladini and Danny Polise. The name is a nod to Mike’s daughter Penelope. The bourbon is a blend of wheat and rye bourbon mashbills, which are aged separately before being blended and bottled. The bourbon is aged in barrels charred with #4 staves and #2 heads. The bourbon being tasted is from Batch 02. It’s non-chill filtered and released at barrel strength.

Scents of brown sugar, caramel, and baking spices create a pleasing aroma, though a trace of ethanol teases the bourbon’s youth. The palate brings more brown sugar along with blackberries. The intensity ramps up on the sip with baking spice crescendoing towards the end and leading into the finish, where it quickly tapers off. Sweet vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and butterscotch linger.

The barrel strength version of Penelope Bourbon intensifies the flavors while maintaining the overall drinkability found in its 80 proof counterpart, resulting in a significant step in the right direction. While there is certainly an undercurrent of youth that would be expected, the higher proof serves this bourbon well, intensifying the better flavors present. The presence of three bourbons containing a total of four grains seems to soften the overall delivery. All three bourbons in the blend are sourced from MGP and aged at least two years (the two rye bourbons are aged 3 years, and the wheated bourbon is aged 2 years), and the result is well-rounded considering the age, demonstrating both the quality of MGP’s distillate along with the quality of blending that went into creating this bourbon.

The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Penelope Bourbon. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Nick
Luca Mariano Old Americana Small Batch Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Luca Mariano

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 83

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

Francesco Viola was a home distilling hobbyist and in 2010 he decided to bring some of his grandfather's old whiskey recipes to life. Upon learning that it was illegal to home distill, Francesco dove in head first, obtaining a license to distill and creating the Luca Mariano brand along the way. The company derives its name from Francesco’s son, Luca Mariano, who is named after Francesco’s grandfather. It’s bottling design employees embossed glass reminiscent of what you might find in an italiain liquor. The brand is currently working with a Kentucky distillery to distill their products to spec. In 2017, the company found a 300 acre farm in Danville, Kentucky with the goal of it eventually housing a future distillery, rackhouses, and a visitor center.

The nose of Batch Number 2019-03 contains light hints of butterscotch, vanilla, oak, and hay. The sip is approachable and brings with it marshmallow, caramel, sweet vanilla, and a touch of oak. The finish rounds it out with vanilla, hard butterscotch candy, and tannic oak that lingers along with a pleasing heat. This heat helps drag out the finish longer than you would expect for an 83 proof bourbon.

Much like the Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye, the 83 proof on this bourbon delivers a lighter sip. The flavors are light and limited yet distinguishable, however I do wish this was higher in proof to pull them out more. In its current form, Old Americana Small Batch Bourbon would be best suited to use in a simple whiskey cocktail or paired with a light bodied cigar.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Luca Mariano. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Jordan
Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: American Freedom Distillery

Distillery: American Freedom Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 87

Age: Aged a minimum of 2 years

Mashbill: 65% Corn, 30% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

In the days after the events of September 11, 2001, a group of special operations officers answered their nation’s call to defend it. These officers soon found themselves riding horseback in a Green Beret insertion in Northern Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. These men are honored at the America’s Response Monument at Ground Zero and have been given the nickname Horse Soldiers.

These same men banded together to create American Freedom Distillery. Their 16,000 square-foot distillery is located in Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, where they distill their Rekker Rum. Their whiskey is made in Ohio in conjunction with Middle West Spirits. A portion of the proceeds of every bottle sold by American Freedom goes towards maintaining the America’s Response Monument.

A soft and sweet aroma makes up the heft of the nose, with touches of caramel, spice, and grain in tow. It’s followed by a gentle tasting palate that’s sweet and approachable, thanks to honey, vanilla, and lemon zest. It finishes with an impactful pop of oak and spice.

Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey an easy sipper that non-bourbon drinkers will find very approachable. What the sip may lack in depth, it makes up in its easy drinkability.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
American Freedom Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Eric
Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Luca Mariano

Distillery: Undisclosed

Proof: 83

Age: 4 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (listed as a high rye)

MSRP: $45 (2019)

Official Website

Francesco Viola was a home distilling hobbyist and in 2010 he decided to bring some of his grandfather's old whiskey recipes to life. Upon learning that it was illegal to home distill, Francesco dove in head first, obtaining a license to distill and creating the Luca Mariano brand along the way. The company derives its name from Francesco’s son, Luca Mariano, who is named after Francesco’s grandfather. The brand is currently working with a Kentucky distillery to distill their products to spec. In 2017, the company found a 300 acre farm in Danville, Kentucky with the goal of it eventually housing a future distillery, rackhouses, and a visitor center.

The batch being tasted comes from Batch Number 2019-01. The batch’s nose is light with hints of corn, vanilla, oak, and light marshmallow. Taking a sip presents light flavors of oak, white pepper, corn, and a dash of vanilla. The rye pulls through on the finish and presents a slightly spicier than expected ending, especially considering its 83 proof. Along with the rye spice, sweet vanilla and light oak are also present for this short to medium finish.

As would be expected for an 83 proof rye, the sip is on the lighter side. The flavors are fine, but you can’t help but feel a few more years in the barrel and about 10+ more proof points would really allow this rye to shine. It will be interesting to see how the Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye develops over time, especially once distillation moves in-house. In the meantime, Luca Mariano Small Batch Rye presents the perfect cocktail rye when you need a lighter base for a whiskey-based cocktail.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Luca Mariano. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Jordan
Taconic Distillery Finished Whiskeys

Taconic Distillery Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon Cognac Cask

Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Cognac Casks

Company: Taconic Distillery

Distillery: Taconic Distillery

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 70% Corn, 25% Rye, 5% Malted Barley

MSRP: $54 (2019)

Official Website


Taconic Distillery Founder’s Rye Madeira Cask

Classification: Straight Rye Finished in Madeira Casks

Company: Taconic Distillery

Distillery: Taconic Distillery

Release Date: 2019

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $54 (2019)

Official Website

Taconic Distillery located in New York’s lush Hudson Valley, was established in 2013. Its founders hoped to bring the spirit of the region’s hunting, fishing, and outdoor lifestyle to their entire whiskey making process. The company calls their products “farm-to-bottle” whiskeys, utilizing locally sourced Hudson Valley grains and water from the distillery’s on-premise natural spring.

In the fall of 2016, Taconic finished construction and opened its new 4,200 square foot distillery, which now allows them to produce, bottle and package their whiskey in one place. Their tasting room allows visitors to sample their whiskey, but more interestingly, also allows visitors to taste many other distilleries' whiskeys in hopes of providing a greater understanding of the wealth of different whiskeys on the market. Their straight bourbon and rye whiskeys also are available in cask strength varieties, and during the fall they also release a double barreled maple bourbon, which is their bourbon finished for a few months in emptied maple syrup barrels from Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse. Some of the company’s newest products are their barrel finished whiskeys, two of which are Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon finished in cognac casks, and their Founder’s Rye finished in Madeira casks.

Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon finished in ex-Remy Martin cognac casks opens with a soft whiff of toasted coconut, vanilla extract, and dark berries that slowly gives way to cognac soaked raisin scent. An extra swirl of the glass nicely opens the aroma further and increases its intensity. The sip piggybacks on the nose with juicy raisins and dark berries at the forefront, followed by oak, burnet caramel, and nuts. The finish is oak and grain forward and most noticeably, a bit bitter, which most likely has to do with the cognac barrel finishing. Overall the barrel finish is mild and keeps its intensity in check.

Founder’s Rye finished in Madeira casks starts with a delightful aroma of whipped strawberry frosting, rye spice, orange, and toffee. The palate transitions into a more nutty and oak base with light cherry and peach bringing some brightness to the flavor profile. The finish is oaky and bitter with a walnut and orange peel aftertaste.  

Both whiskeys are easy sippers and I can’t help but feel that’s the direction they were going for. “Gentle” is the conclusion I came to regarding both finishes. The barrel finish doesn’t try and get in the way of the base whiskey and is instead there to compliment it. There are plenty of whiskey drinkers that will appreciate this, while others will wish for more barrel finish and proof intensity. It’s hard to please both in this regard and I can’t help but think Taconic knew exactly who they were making this for.

The samples used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of
Taconic Distillery. We thank them for the samples and for allowing us to review them with no strings attached.

Written By: Eric
War Penny Krogh's Stout Beer Barrel Finish Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon Finished in a Krogh’s Stout Beer Barrel

Company: Milk Street Distillery

Distillery: Milk Street Distillery

Proof: 93

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

MSRP: $68 (2019)

Official Website

Milk Street Distillery was launched by brothers Mike and Gordon Geerhart in 2016. Located Branchville, New Jersey, it is the first distillery in Sussex County in over 70 years. War Penny Bourbon consists of a mashbill of undisclosed percentages of corn and rye, with a portion of that grain steeped in cherry wood smoke over the course of 36 hours. Aged until the brothers deemed it ready, the bourbon is then finished in beer barrels of varying styles from local breweries for an undisclosed amount of time. This variation of beer barrels allows War Penny to have a continuously changing flavor profile. The top of every bottle of War Penny Bourbon is adorned with a real 1943 steel penny.

The nose opens with a strong dash of smoke, sweet malts, youthful grain, and a sweet marshmallow notes. The sip is thin yet flavorful delivering flavors of smoked corn, chocolate malt, pepper, and a dash of rye spice. The bourbon finishes on notes of chocolate, pepper, rye, and toasted marshmallow. The inclusion of steeping in cherry wood smoke and finishing in beer barrels is readily apparent throughout the entire sip.

This bottle of War Penny Bourbon deep down comes across as a young whiskey. However due to the fact that some of its grains have been cherry smoked, and that it was finished in a stout barrel, that youth is masked well and features flavors typically not found in young whiskey. I’d best describe this as a beer drinker’s bourbon, and one that would be a nice introduction to those rooted in the beer world who would like to dabble in the world of bourbon.

‍The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Milk Street Distillery. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.

Written By: Jordan
  • Exclusive Content
  • new content summary
  • bourbon in the news
  • social media roundup
Terms of UsePrivacy PolicyEthics PolicyCommenting Policy