Classification: Straight Bourbon Finished in Split Stave Barrels
Company: Four Gate Whiskey Company
Release Date: December 2019 (Kentucky and Tennessee Only)
Age: Blend of 5.5 and 12 year bourbons - Finished for 5 months
Mashbill: 5.5 Year: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley - 12 Year: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
MSRP: $175 (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 normally sell sourced whiskey while their own whiskey comes of age. The duo doesn’t have a distillery, and they don’t plan to distill. Instead, they are focusing on sourcing barrels to create very small batches and doing unique things to them. Four Gate’s Batch 2 in particular fulfilled this promise, as it was a bourbon finished in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks.
Their latest batch is the same base whiskey blend used in Batch 2, but utilizes the barrel experts at Kelvin Cooperage to create a unique finishing technique. The Kelvin team started out with a series of medium toasted casks, #2 and #4 char casks. They then dismantled the barrels and rebuilt them alternating between toasted staves and #2 char staves on some barrels, and toasted and #4 char staves on others. The team trademarked this creation as “Split Stave™.”
Nose: Char, cocoa powder, vanilla, butterscotch, and burnt caramel. Straightforward aroma but quite potent.
Palate: Oak, cinnamon, vanilla, and creme brûlée. Robust flavor.
Finish: Long, with cinnamon, heavy oak, Red Hots candy, slight clove, and pepper notes. Slightly dry.
Finishing a bourbon in Orange Curaçao-Gin Casks was certainly interesting, but it doesn’t pique the curiosity of bourbon enthusiasts like the Split Stave™ finishing probably will. It’s hard to know for sure if simply finishing the bourbon separately with each type of char and then blending them would have had the same effect as the Split Stave™ process, but there is no denying the intensity of this bourbon. It may not be overly complex, but its flavors are strikingly bold and work really well together. It’s always interesting when a company takes the tried-and-true and toys with it. While this is a double barrel finished bourbon, it doesn’t come across as “finishy” as say, Woodford Reserve Double Oaked does. That’s huge, as Four Gate has found an interesting middle ground between a traditional aged bourbon and a finished double barreled bourbon, that in the end, adds to the bourbon without drastically changing it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see more Split Stave™-like finished bourbons in the future from not only Four Gate, but possibly other companies as well.