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.
This is my favorite of the Swilled Dog whiskies I tried. Yes I do like a good finished bourbon. This cask strength finished bourbon is excellent. It reminded me of a cherry pie with a dab of vanilla bean ice cream and some moonshine cherries. The bourbon is sourced and finished in Oloroso sherry casks that Swilled Dog sourced from Spain. The bourbon was finished in North Carolina. I enjoyed this immensely.
I’m someone who likes to try new things and enjoys seeing the results of experimentation. Because of that, I very well may have been curious enough to try this even at it’s steep price point had I not been sent this sample from Heaven’s Door. I’m a fan of Irish Whiskey generally, and Redbreast specifically, so to see a 10-year old bourbon finished in their casks and with the collaboration of their Master Blender Billy Leighton got me excited to crack it open. I’ll also give credit where its due and point out that Ryan Perry, the Master Blender at Heaven’s Door also surely pulled his own weight in selecting the sourced bourbon to include in this project.
What can I say, I’m a sucker for that high-proof MGP bourbon nose. The moment I pour my first glass and took a whiff I was hooked. The aroma immediately took me back to a previous review I had done on the Remus Repeal Reserve Series IV. While not exactly the same, both had pronounced butter and leather notes that remind me of dusty whiskeys of days gone by. The nose makes a ton of sense when you remember that Stellum Bourbon is a blend of three Indiana bourbon mash bills, two of which are high-rye, with the third being almost exclusively corn (99% Corn and 1% Barley) which are mingled with older barrels from both Kentucky and Tennessee.
This is a swell whiskey. It’s balanced, bold—even muscular—and pretty much what a properly aged 15-year-old bourbon should taste like. Some sourced whiskey shows the talent or luck of the barrel hunter, so let’s call Grain & Barrel Spirits’ master distiller Gregg Snyder talented. It’s delicious. Ironically, I had this same whiskey from a full bottle bought by a friend, and it did little for me. A month later, I got a sample bottle from Chicken Cock, and it was praiseworthy. Go figure. I have no explanation for it.
This was a pleasant surprise. I have had the opportunity to try a number of KO Distilling whiskies including their Cask Strength Offerings at 120 proof and at least 3 years in age. I found them very hot and a good bit of youth showing through. The Distiller’s Reserve is a different story however. The sample I tried was 52 months. A wheated bourbon that is Non Chill Filtered. I would get a slight hint of youth every now and again but overall, this was a very enjoyable bourbon. Soft and sweet going in with a good bit of spice at the end for a wheated bourbon. I have in my collection a 4-year-old Bottled in Bond wheated bourbon from a craft distillery in Kentucky that many people are raving about and I can say that I liked this KO bourbon a lot more.
Despite the inviting nose—which revealed layer after incredible layer of aromas the longer it rested—whiskey is for drinking, and that effort ended the fun for me.
I get that others like some of these extra-long-aged bourbons; in fact, I appreciate it. That crowd is wired differently from me and variety is a great thing. But unlike Michter’s, which somehow pulls off the feat of bottling 20- and 25-year bourbon and rye that is as drying, it doesn’t win me over. This 22-year dries up quickly and heads right to astringency for me. Your reactions may vary, and I hope they do, especially if you spend the exorbitant sums requested online.
It isn’t harsh, which is good for a 4 year old, but that’s likely due to the low proof. Wolf Moon is best suited for sipping while hanging around and burning it down, and you don’t want to sip on any Jack Daniels. The type of whiskey you pour over ice in a solo cup around a bonfire, hanging out at the lake, or knocking back on a muddy tailgate.