- DISTILLER: Produced by American Highway Reserve but distilled by Bardstown Bourbon Co.
- MASH BILL: A blend of bourbons using corn, rye, and barley:
- 28% 3-year (71/21/9)
- 25% 3-year (60/36/4)
- 24% 13-year (74/18/8)
- 23% 15-year (78.5/13/0/8.5)
- AGE: 3 years (though some 15-year-old and 13-year-old barrels are in the blend)
- YEAR: 2021
- PROOF: 96 Proof (48% ABV)
- MSRP: $99.99
SHARE WITH: Anyone who may need to learn, the hard way, what bad bourbon tastes like.
WORTH THE PRICE: Imagine Dr. Evil from “Austin Powers” saying, “Umm, noooo.”
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bust. Just a total bust.
OVERALL: Despite some older whiskey in this blend, it all smells young: new wood, green apple, cooked corn, dried rye and ethanol. Initially, the aroma is faint, but a few vigorous swirls moves it from non-existent to hot in the nostrils; from “Is anybody home?” to “Please go back inside your house!” It’s corn-whiskey-sweet and light on the palate before finishing unpleasantly dry. I hate to sound like a jerk, but I like nothing about this bourbon.
But I do like Brad Paisley. He’s a fine singer and player and seems like a nice guy. Yet even nice people get suckered—by their own egos or marketing teams or both—into creating celebrity spirits. And what do these celebs gain for the effort? More money that they don’t need? Revived relevance among their fans?
I’m sure stars like Paisley could care less when shlubs like me dislike their whiskeys. They know fans will buy their “celebottles” despite my disdain for them.
But here’s where I really get irritated. Whoever came up with the gimmick at the heart of this story must be the reincarnation of Professor Harold Hill. (Just google it, young people. He’s the delightful con artist in “The Music Man.”) The story goes like this: The casks were filled with blended bourbons, loaded onto a 53-foot tractor-trailer and trucked behind Paisley’s 2019 tour bus to 25 states. When the journey ended, the truck’s odometer showed 7,314 additional miles. Which, in terms of good whiskey, means nothing at all.
All those miles produced is the asphalt ribbon equivalent of Jefferson’s Ocean. A bunch of sloshing around that doesn’t drive the whiskey into the wood like time and heat do. Did they price this bottle so highly to offset the cost of all that diesel fuel? Talk about carbon footprints!
Here’s what I want to know: Did Team Paisley keep a few barrels in a rickhouse for a control sample? I mean, how else can you tell with confidence that all that pitching and yawing of that liquid in the back of a truck did the whiskey any good?
I received this whiskey sample several months ago, immediately tried it, disliked it and shelved it. I’ve revisited it many times, taking sips and sniffs here and there and settling on the same dislike. After months of neglect in my review queue, I gave it a final chance. I wish I hadn’t. To blend in the title of a Paisley song to end this review … if anyone wants the last 50ml of my 100ml sample, you can get it from me “Without a Fight.”
Our first batch of American Highway balances sweet and spice with a blend of four premium Kentucky bourbons. And while we’ll be introducing a new blend every year, its real character will be revealed on the road.
The rocking of the Rolling Rickhouse draws out the barrel's natural sugars, while the climate swings push and pull the bourbon in and out of the wood, imparting more and more deep oak flavor. It’s a set of variables that add up to something amazing, just like any journey — or any country song.
- AROMA: Sweet and spicy, with notes of caramel and cinnamon and plenty of oak character
- FLAVOR: Bright bursts of apricot and cinnamon with rich dark chocolate and leather
- FINISH: Complex flavors sit warmly on the palate, leading to a long, ringing finish
BRAD PAISLEY TO LAUNCH ‘AMERICAN HIGHWAY’ BOURBONBourbon was aged in ‘Rolling Rickhouse’ on tour with the country music superstar
BARDSTOWN, Ky.— Global country music superstar Brad Paisley will launch “American Highway” Bourbon in November, a whiskey aged in barrels stored in a 53-foot semi-trailer that followed his 2019 nation-wide tour for 7,314 miles across 25 states, from coast to coast.
“Bourbon is like songwriting, it’s a blend of things coming together to make something incredible,” said Paisley. “These are really special barrels that saw more of the United States than most people I know.”
The fluctuating climate of the barrels’ journey expanded and contracted their staves, imparting oak and char that cultivate the characteristics flavors of America’s native spirit. This well-traveled batch was then blended with three-year, 13-year and 15-year-old Kentucky bourbons to create the final product. The next batch, to be released in 2022, was aged on the Rolling Rickhouse during Paisley’s 2021 tour.
Paisley sums up the creative process that derived his bourbon: “It’s so similar to what goes into a great guitar. The right woods, the right craftsmanship, the right alchemy that makes this intangible, magical thing, and that’s what makes this so great to me.”
“American Highway’s” literal path-to-market wasn’t the only unique aspect of its creation: Rather than just sourcing whiskey and lending a celebrity name to it, Paisley worked closely with award-winning bourbon distiller Bardstown Bourbon Company to create the final blend. Located in Bardstown, Kentucky the “Bourbon Capitol of the World,” this modern bourbon distiller creates custom whiskey, bourbon and rye for more than 30 different brand-owners worldwide and has won critical acclaim for its releases.
Paisley collaborated with a team of experts at Bardstown, including VP of New Product Development Dan Callaway. “You don’t get to see many celebrities that have such a technical palate,” shared Callaway. “It was a super collaboration that resulted in a travelled bourbon in an exemplary expression.”
Callaway describes the bourbon as “A blend of four rye-forward bourbons ranging in age from 3 to 15 years. The flavor profile is incredibly unique. Subtle, complex, spicy, well-traveled. As we like to say, it was, ‘born in Kentucky, aged across America’.”
With just 30,000 bottles of the initial release produced, the 96-proof blend has a suggested retail price of $99.99. The bourbon will be available in AL, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MS, NC, NV, NY, OH, TN, TX, WI and WV.
Disclaimer: American Highway Reserve provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.