Blue Run Flight Series: Washington Apple Orchard

Blue Run is a brand on fire. After capturing a rapt audience with their early limited edition releases they recently pivoted to producing more widely available expressions to satisfy their feverish fanbase.

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  • DISTILLER: Castle & Key by Jim Rutledge for Blue Run Spirits
  • MASH BILL: 65% Yellow Corn  |  30% Rye  |  5% Malted Barley
  • AGE: NAS - No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 2022
  • PROOF: 118 Proof (59% ABV)
  • MSRP: $120


SHARE WITH: The coolest person you know. Not only is the whiskey full of flavor and expertly blended but it represents a turning of the corner for Blue Run Spirits.

WORTH THE PRICE: It is ambitiously priced for what I assume is a young whiskey, but that said it is quite enjoyable and comes in a stunning bottle. At $40 less this would be an easy "yes" but at $120, I'd advise trying before buying.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle. Despite my gripes with the price I think this bottle is worth it for anyone who has been following the Blue Run journey from the beginning or for those who are looking to see what their Whiskey Director, Shaylyn Gammon, is capable of.

OVERALL: Blue Run is a brand on fire. After capturing a rapt audience with their early limited edition releases they recently pivoted to producing more widely available expressions to satisfy their feverish fanbase. Love them, hate them, or fail to understand them, one thing that can be said about Blue Run Spirits is they know how to assemble an experienced team. Their group of founders run the gamut from a lead Nike sneaker designer to a former Facebook director as well as a former political advisor, and that's before you make mention of their liquid advisor - Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Famer Jim Rutledge.

Using barrels that Jim originally distilled at Casle & Key, Blue Run then trusted that prodigous distillate with their Whiskey Director, Shaylyn Gammon, to blend the 6 "micro batches" ranging between 2-5 barrels to make up this Flight Series. The Flight Series marks a return to Blue Run's more usual strategy of creating hype around capsule collections and super premium products. Taking a page directly out of the sneaker culture playbook that co-founder and Nike designer Devon McKinney is familiar with, they've shared bottles of this release free of charge with 6 diverse voices in the whiskey community so that we could give their audience an exclusive advance look along with our unvarnished opinion.

So, do you want mine? This 5 barrel blend that makes up the Washington Apple Orchard release is impressive whiskey. At what I assume is a young age, the flavor is well developed and the nose is initially enticing. What holds this whiskey back, however, has more to do with its age than anything. On the front end of the palate and during initial nosings I was awe-struck at how rich it is with notes of red candy apple, vanilla extract, toffee, and cinnamon-dusted oatmeal. However, as this sat in the glass there were some youthful grain notes that encroached on my nosing experience. Furthermore, on the finish this was rather drying which curbed my enthusiasm for how full flavored it began on the palate, marring an otherwise complex and enjoyable pour.

Despite being held in check by its youth, I think this is a solid expression and easily the most flavorful I've had from the Castle & Key distillery. That's surely due in part to Jim Rutledge's years of experience in whiskey production but I think the greatest credit belongs to Shaylyn Gammon for crafting such an artful blend. I'm intrigued to try more of these releases to see both how they differ and also to better appreciate Shaylyn's blending acumen, which was first put on display during her award-winning work with Wild Turkey for the Russell's Reserve 13 year expression.

For those of you looking to enjoy a young whiskey produced by some of the most capable hands in the industry this will be a must-try if not a must-buy. Other expressions in the Flight Series include: Alpine Meadows, Parisian Patisserie, Seattle Downpour, Lahaina Luau, Washington Apple Orchard, and a yet to be revealed 6th offering. As it goes with all of Blue Run's limited edition expressions, these bottles will likely sell out fast so you'll need to be quick if you want to secure Washington Apple Orchard or any of their other Flight Series expressions which will be available starting October 19th. our unvarnished opinion


Blue Run Flight Series High Rye Bourbon

Blue Run Flight Series is a collection “micro batches” of Blue Run’s lauded Kentucky Straight High Rye Bourbon Whiskey. Each of the six “Flights” consists of between two to five barrels contract distilled by Blue Run’s Liquid Advisor Jim Rutledge at Castle & Key Distillery. The barrels were hand-selected and expertly blended by Whiskey Director Shaylyn Gammon, making Flight the first Blue Run whiskey release blended by Gammon since she joined the company earlier this year. The small number of barrels used in Blue Run’s micro batching allows Gammon’s award-winning blending artistry to shine through on each bourbon, creating exceptional flavor experiences in each Flight. Blue Run plans to release two Flight series annually beginning in 2023. The iridescent white butterfly, designed by Devon McKinney, is meant to evoke a brilliant cloud in the sky, while the names of each micro batch are meant to take the consumer on a journey to uniquely memorable destinations and/or experiences.

Nose: Fresh blueberries and dehydrated fruit, bubblegum, shortbread, leather, apple juice, and sweet spice.

Taste: Vanilla bean, honey, banana, Fuji apples, oatmeal, oak, and black pepper.

Finish: Wood spice, spiced apple cider, and lingering toasted wood.

Disclaimer: Bourbon & Banter received a sample of this product from the brand for review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.