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December 2020
ROUNDUP

O.K.I. Single Barrel Bourbon Barrel #4

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: O.K.I.

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: September 2020

Proof: 115.5

Age: 5 Years

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

Color: Light Copper

MSRP: $70

Official Website

Nose: Creamy caramel | Spiced vanilla | Light summer fruits | Airy and bright

Palate: Caramel | Baking spice | Fruit salad | Hints of rye | Nice balance of sweet & spicy

Finish: Oak | Flash of spice | Leather | Lacking depth compared to the rest of the sip

The O.K.I. brand first helped get New Riff Distilling off the ground and now Chad Brizendine and Jake Warm are hoping to breathe new life into it after acquiring it from New Riff. O.K.I.'s first single barrel releases are bottled at cask strength, and were released in Northern Kentucky this fall with distribution to Ohio and Indiana planned soon thereafter.

The first release of O.K.I consisted of several single barrels, each having similar yet unique flavor profiles. This was evident as I tasted Barrel #4 against Barrel #18. Where Barrel #18 is a spice bomb that delivers oodles of heat, Barrel #18 pulls forth more pronounced fruiter flavors in the nose and palate. While the finish is lacking any soul, it’s another good start to bringing the brand back to life. It will be interesting to see how O.K.I finds its footing as it grows with time.

Written By: Jordan
December 1, 2020

Larceny Barrel Proof Batch C920

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: October 2020

Proof: 122.4

Age: NAS (Company states that batches will contain six to eight year old bourbon)

Mashbill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley

Color: Dark Bronze

MSRP: $50 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Brown sugar | Syrup | Dry walnuts | Baking spice | Faintest tingle of ethanol | Amped up scents that are sweet and inviting

Palate: Syruped raisins | Dry oak | Leather | Chocolate covered dark cherries | Brown sugar | Baking chocolate | Depths of great flavor

Finish: Oak | Leather | Dab of tobacco leaf | Bold baking spice | Dried nuts | Lingering bold heat | A nice contrast to the sweeter parts of the sip

The last batch of Larceny Barrel Proof in 2020 rounds out the brand's first year of existence nicely. Its full flavored bold sip is exactly what you’d expect from a barrel proof wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill. The distillery seems to be dialing in this brand quite well, and it wouldn’t surprise me if future batches of Larceny Barrel Proof continue to excel even more as the company finetunes the barrels it picks for these batched releases. If you’re a fan of sweater wheated bourbons or just a fan of full flavored barrel proof bourbons, be sure to seek this out.

Written By: Jordan
December 2, 2020

Kooper’s Family The Prodigal Son Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Kooper Family Whiskey Co.

Distillery: Undisclosed distillery(ies) in Kentucky

Release Date: Fall 2020

Proof: 86

Age: NAS (Website states 4 years)

Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye

Color: Chestnut

MSRP: $40 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Cinnamon bun | Vanilla frosting | Dark brown sugar | Light citrus | Rich oak | Deliciously rich

Palate: Honey | Coffee cake | Baking spice | Sweet oak | Gentle but impactful

Finish: Leather | Burnt toffee | Slight dryness | Long oak aftertaste

We enjoyed both Kooper’s Family Rye and Sweetheart at the Rodeo from this Texas distillery. Despite their whiskey’s sourced origins, Kooper’s blending and aging in Texas has produced some noteworthy whiskeys so far. The Prodigal Son is the company’s first limited release, consisting of just five barrels and only available at their distillery. Despite its very limited availability, The Prodigal Son with its rich flavors at just four years old and 86 proof, is another example of the impressive showing by this young distillery.

Written By: Eric
December 4, 2020

Buzzard’s Roost Very Small Batch Rye

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: Buzzard’s Roost

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 105

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Bronze

MSRP: $50

Official Website

Nose: Sweet fruit-filled scents | Light pine | Touch of oak | Tingle of ethanol

Palate: Vanilla | Toasted sugar | Baking spice | Dash of rye spice | Youthful and sweet

Finish: Building rye spice | Vanilla | Noticeable oak | On the shorter side

Buzzard’s Roost was created by Jason Brauner, the co-owner of the influential Bourbons Bistro in Louisville, KY. The bourbon is originally sourced from MGP before being rebarreled in a brand new charred oak barrel that is custom ordered to Buzzard’s Roost’s specifications. The end result is a rye that has the underpinnings of a classic sweeter MGP rye flavor profile with just a hint of extra oak coming through on the finish. The proof is quite manageable and results in an easy-sipping, everyday rye.

Written By: Jordan
December 7, 2020

Branch & Barrel Flagship Bourbon

Classification: Whiskey

Company: Broken Arrow Spirits

Distillery: Branch & Barrel Distilling

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 88

Age: NAS

Mashbill: 80% Corn, 20% Malted Barley

Color: Tan

MSRP: $45 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Strawberry cream | Apple | Toasted cereal | Light oak

Palate: Vanilla | Caramel | Malt | Slight creaminess

Finish: Grain | Oak | Heat

Crafted in Colorado, Broken Arrow Spirits takes that to heart. Barrel & Branch is created using prairie corn, Colorado spring water, and aged in barrels that were produced from the trees on their own property. The whiskey goes by the name “Flagship Bourbon” on their website, yet curiously there is no mention of it being a bourbon on the bottle or their 2017 TTB label approval. Overall it’s a straightforward tasting whiskey, leaning heavily on vanilla, caramel, and grain notes. On the flip side, its nose is expressive, and its maltiness adds character. Additional time in oak is needed to increase complexity and bring out additional flavors.

Written By: Eric
December 9, 2020

Old Dominick Huling Station Blend Whiskey

Classification: Blend of Straight Whiskeys

Company: D. Canale & Co.

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 100

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Blend of 50% Straight Bourbon (52% Corn, 44% Rye, 4% Malted Barley) and 50% Straight Wheat Whiskey (83% Wheat, 12% Corn, 5% Malted Barley)

Color: Chestnut

MSRP: $45

Official Website

Nose: Warming vanilla | Light cinnamon | Oak | Light raisin | Syrup

Palate: Dried oak | Cinnamon sticks | Rye spice | Light baking spice | Creamy vanilla | Syrup | Sweet and spice in delivery  

Finish: Candied cinnamon hearts | Touch of leather | Rye spice | Pleasant warming heat that lingers

Old Dominick Huling Station Blend is a straightforward blend of a bourbon and wheat whiskey. The resulting pour is one that is a nice balance of sweetness from the wheat whiskey with a nice amount of spice from the high rye bourbon. Its flavors are easy to appreciate, and while not the most mind-blowing sip, most will have a hard time finding any fault either. A nice whiskey to have on hand as an everyday sipper.

Written By: Jordan
December 10, 2020

Adventurous Stills Peralta Bourbon (Batch 30)

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Adventurous Stills

Distillery: Adventurous Stills

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 90

Age: NAS

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Amber

MSRP: $45 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Malt | Chocolate | Pie crust | Dark fruit | Robust | Intriguing

Palate: Chocolate | Cherry | Caramel | Vanilla | Tobacco | Chewy with a full body

Finish: Surge of baking spices | Maple sugar candy | Vanilla | Long

This Tempe, Arizona distillery has been distilling spirits since 2015, and makes all the whiskey they bottle. Peralta Bourbon holds true to the company’s name and mission statement - it’s unequivocally adventurous and different. The company notes they include a few specialty grains to create chocolate and spice notes. Those notes are very evident and in fact, provide the base for the overall flavor profile which presents more like a malt whiskey than a bourbon. While it’s still a bit rough around the edges, Peralta Bourbon’s robust and unique flavor profile and great mouthfeel more than make up for it.

Written By: Nick
December 21, 2020

Pinhook Bourbon War Vertical Series - 5 Year

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: CJS Beverage Corp.

Distillery: MGP

Release Date: October 2020

Proof: 104

Age: 5 Years

Mashbill: 75% Corn, 20.5% Rye, and 4.5% Malted Barley

Color: Light Bronze

MSRP: $50

Official Website

Nose: Oak | Big grain | Vanilla | Toasted marshmallow | Slight ethanol tingle

Palate: Green pepper | Rye spice | Noticeable oak | Toasted brown sugar | Caramel | Underlying corn throughout | Punchy spice mixed with sweeter flavors

Finish: Oak | Corn bake | Dry leather | White peppercorns | Touch of brown sugar | Pleasant way to end the sip

Bourbon War 5 Year represents the first release in a 9 year vertical series. We first visited the series in our review of Bourbon War 4 Year which launched the vertical series off to a good start. The 5 year version of the series delivers a similar drinking experience that also has some noticeable differences. The base is similar, however the slight increase of proof to 106 pulls forward more of the spice in the palate along with highlighting more of the grain overall. While some years will slightly edge out others, this continues to be a fun series to explore the impact that time has on bourbon. I look forward to seeing the progression take place over the remaining years.

Written By: Jordan
December 22, 2020

Hudson Whiskey Do The Rye Thing

Classification: Straight Rye

Company: William Grant & Sons Ltd

Distillery: Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 92

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 95% New York Rye, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Rust

MSRP: $25 (375ml), $40 (750ml) (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Juicy Fruit gum | Lemon | Honey | Straw | Grain

Palate: Apricot | Mint | Pear | Bright and fruity

Finish: Dry rye grain | Black pepper | Rye spice | Slight heat | Short

After going with a full rebrand in September 2020 and skewing their label design towards New York City design aesthetics, Hudson Whiskey hopes you finally take notice. Likely surprising many, Hudson Whiskey has been operating since 2003 and was the first New York distillery since Prohibition. Yet, the company has seemingly struggled to stand out to the unknowing or at the very least, stay in the mindshare of those who do know it. Story aside, Do the Rye Thing, which is in fact a rebranding of their Manhattan Rye, is quite the satisfying sipping rye. Why the company maintains a low age statement despite its many years distilling is anyone's guess, as it is the main drawback to an otherwise great tasting whiskey. This is a rye that forgoes much of the typical heat and spice of rye whiskeys, and instead puts forth a surprisingly delicate and fruit-leaning flavor profile. With a little more age and a little less grain, Hudson has a real winner here.

Written By: Eric
December 23, 2020

Axe and the Oak Colorado Mountain Bourbon

Classification: Bourbon

Company: Axe and the Oak

Distillery: Blend of Axe and Oak and Undisclosed Distillery[ies] in Indiana

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 92

Age: Less than 2 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed (Corn, Malted Barley, & 21% Rye)

Color: Copper

MSRP: $45 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Maple syrup | Green apples | Honey | Vanilla

Palate: Punch of brown sugar | Caramel | Vanilla | Sticky mouthfeel

Finish: Rye spice | Seasoned oak | Graham cracker | Spice lingers

A Colorado based distillery, Axe and the Oak Bourbon is a blend of in-house distilled bourbon and Indiana sourced bourbon, resulting in a final mashbill of approximately 21% rye. While the company website states the in-house distilled bourbon is aged at least 2 years, the bottle label states less than 2 years which may be outdated at this point. The resulting bourbon is sweet, easy drinking, and pleasant, making for a bourbon that will appeal to those looking for something that errs on the sweeter side of things.

Written By: Nick
December 28, 2020

Wheeler’s Raid Straight Bourbon No. 3 French Oak Finish

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Wheeler’s Raid Distillery

Distillery: Undisclosed Distillery(ies)

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 105

Age: 4 Years, 2 Months (Contains bourbon up to 6 years old)

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Color: Rustic Gold

MSRP: $65 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Cherry | Strawberry cream | Vanilla custard | Fresh wood | Toffee | Taut

Palate: Cherry | Dark raspberry | Blackberry | Anise | Toasted oak | Lively

Finish: Dry oak | Vanilla | Burnt caramel | Light pepper | Touch of French oak | Lingering black cherry

Founded in 2016, the distillery takes its name from a Civil War battle in which soldiers raiding a wagon wheel supply line discovered some of the wagon’s stocked whiskey. I’m guessing the winning side has a pretty good victory celebration. Regarding Wheeler’s Raid whiskey itself, this particular release was finished with medium toast French oak staves. The resulting whiskey is not overly saturated with French oak notes, but instead features a pleasing array of dark fruit flavors. A touch of dry oak on the finish adds dimension but a light tannic graininess keeps this whiskey from reaching its full potential. Yet its all around persuasive fruitiness and lingering black cherry note in the finish make for a rather charming sip overall.

Written By: Eric
December 29, 2020

Hudson Whiskey Bright Lights, Big Bourbon

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: William Grant & Sons, Inc

Distillery: Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery

Release Date: Ongoing

Proof: 92

Age: 3 Years

Mashbill: 95% Corn, 5% Malted Barley

Color: Gold

MSRP: $25 (375ml), $40 (750ml) (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Heavy grain | Corn | Oak | Slightest hint of vanilla & raisin | Very grainy and youthful

Palate: Oak | Youthful grain | Dab of baking chocolate | Vanilla

Finish: Youthful grain | Oak | Vanilla | Simple

Hudson Whiskey was one of the original leaders of the craft bourbon movement in the early 2000’s. Since that time they have continued to put out a bourbon that has been polarizing in the whiskey community. With a flashy packaging redesign in 2020, the brand shows that while the look on the outside may have changed, the liquid on the inside stays the same. Hudson Whiskey Bright Lights, Big Bourbon offers a very youthful sip, with slight flashes in the palate of possible potential if it only had more time to rest in a barrel. The most perplexing thing about this brand is that Hudson hasn’t taken the time to explore further aging their bourbon, instead relying on a youthful flavor profile that most likely won’t appeal to the experienced bourbon drinker.

Written By: Jordan
December 30, 2020

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch C920

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: November 2020

Proof: 132.8

Age: 12 Years

Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye

Color: Mahogany

MSRP: $65 (2020)

Official Website

Nose: Cherry | Orange marmalade | Allspice | Fresh dough | Thick oak

Palate: Black cherry | Rich oak | Dark brown sugar | White pepper | Cocoa powder

Finish: Leather | Dark chocolate | Toasted walnut | Sugary oak | Long

Potent, intense, consistent. Those three words sum up Elijah Craig Barrel Proof in a nutshell. Where the brand can now sometimes feel like been-there-done-that, there is no denying that this bourbon always brings its “A” game. Its flavors are always potent, proof intense, and it consistently delivers a quality pour time and time again. It might not always reach the height some of its competitors reach with certain releases, but its price and availability always make up for it. Batch C920 doesn’t quite match the excellent Batch B520 from earlier this year, but it's close, and probably splitting hairs. One can never have enough Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and Heaven Hill proves over and over that it's one of the company’s marque releases.

Written By: Eric
December 31, 2020
The samples used for these reviews were provided at no cost courtesy of their respective companies. We thank them for allowing us to review them with no strings attached.
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