I tried this after tasting the Watershed Bottled-in-Bond, figuring the apple brandy might taint my palate in a way a straight bourbon wouldn’t. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. Even after three tries, I just couldn’t find much flavor here. The apple brandy influence is way, way in the back, and adding additional straight bourbon into the blend diminishes the point of using the brandy barrels in the first place. I’m not sure if this needs more age, less age, more proof, less proof, fewer barrels, or something else, but the baseline needs more tinkering.
For my first taste of Watershed Distillery, this was a solid if unspectacular bottled-in-bond bourbon. It doesn’t have many youth notes and is more apple- and rye-forward (though the mash bill is undisclosed), and I found it a great mixer for a Manhattan or a less-sweet Gold Rush, as the honey and apple notes elevate each other. As a neat pour, the black pepper can easily overpower the rest of the flavors. A tight nose opens with just a hint of dark honey and savory apples. Black pepper and cider power the taste, with oak and spice lingering on the finish. Applewood joins the nose after some air as does roasted corn.