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Bower Hill Bourbon Reviews

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BOWER HILL BARREL RESERVE


  • DISTILLER: Bower Hill
  • MASH BILL: Undiscolosed, but it's a high Rye mash bill of “roughly 25%."
  • AGE: No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 
  • PROOF: 86 (43% ABV)
  • MSRP: $45-$54
  • BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com

NOSE: Oak | Alcohol | Floral Notes | Acetone

TASTE: Very thin mouthfeel. Very bland overall. Nothing stands out as far as flavors, even with a good Kentucky Chew. All I really can identify is oak at the beginning.

FINISH: Very short finish. There is a slight alcohol burn on the back of the tongue. Thin mouthfeel and very middle of the road. Not great but also not bad.

SHARE WITH: Cocktail drinkers

WORTH THE PRICE: No

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar and try it for yourself.

OVERALL: Light colored with very thin and fast legs that quickly run down the sides of the Glencarin glass. Priced online at $45-$54, I’d have a hard time justifying a bottle of this for my home bar.

Learn more about Brent’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

BOWER HILL SINGLE BARREL


  • DISTILLER: Bower Hill
  • MASH BILL: Undiscolosed, but it's a high Rye mash bill of “roughly 25%."
  • AGE: No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 
  • PROOF: 94 (47% ABV)
  • MSRP: $64
  • BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com

NOSE: Grape Must | Nail Polish | Baking Spices | Praline

TASTE: Not nearly as thin of a mouthfeel as the Barrel Reserve bottle and much better overall. There was a pleasant warm tingle on the tongue. Oak forward flavors stand out. Possible due to the extra age when compared the Barrel Reserve?

FINISH: Much longer than I expected. It drinks much hotter than the 94 proof listed on the bottle. There was a solid Kentucky Hug that lasted much longer than I anticipated.

SHARE WITH: Bourbon fans both new and experienced.

WORTH THE PRICE: Debatable.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar and try it for yourself.

OVERALL:I am not exactly sure of the age of this bottle and it wasn’t made known to me. I enjoyed this bottle much more than the Barrel Reserve. It was considerably better but the pricing seemed a bit steep for me when I found it for around $64 online. I know that Bower Hill’s considered a small craft distiller and you for sure could do a whole lot worse than a single barrel sourced product for your money. I’d just suggest trying it at a bar first to deciding to splurge for the bottle.

Learn more about Brent’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

BOWER HILL BARREL PROOF 


  • DISTILLER: Bower Hill
  • MASH BILL: Undiscolosed, but it's a high Rye mash bill of “roughly 25%."
  • AGE: No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 
  • PROOF: 118.8 (59.4% ABV)
  • MSRP: $130-$230
  • BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com

NOSE: Snickerdoodle Cookie | Very Faint Alcohol Vapor | Brown Sugar

TASTE: Hint of mint on the palate, some white pepper on the middle and back of my tongue. A bit of light butterscotch as well.

FINISH: There is a nice finish that really lingers and you can feel the warmth all the way down your throat and into your chest. The finish is much longer than this one smells if that makes sense. I wouldn’t have guessed that this was over 118 proof from the nose but the proof really shines through on the finish with this one.

SHARE WITH: Bourbon fans that enjoy high proof bottles

WORTH THE PRICE: Depends on your budget

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar if you get lucky enough to come across one. Bottle if you have a limitless budget, love barrel proofs, and can find it.

OVERALL: I was very surprised at how little alcohol there was on the nose for this being almost 119 proof. I was also EXTREMELY surprised when I looked online to find the pricing for this bottle and discovered that is was priced all over the place from between $130-$230 online. It was not available at retail anywhere near me. I really like barrel proof bourbons and I enjoyed this expression. It wasn’t too sweet and it wasn’t too oaky. My only issue with it is higher the cost. I prefer to wait until after I taste and make notes to discover the MSRP of a bottle so that I don’t rush to judgement and compare to similar products on the market in the price range. That being said, I liked it, but I’m not in love with it at the ultra-premium price.

Learn more about Brent’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

BOWER HILL SPECIAL RESERVE


  • DISTILLER: Bower Hill
  • MASH BILL: Undiscolosed, but it's a high Rye mash bill of “roughly 25%."
  • AGE: No Age Statement
  • YEAR: 
  • PROOF: 106 (53% ABV)
  • MSRP: $99
  • BUY ONLINE: Total Wine

NOSE: Orange Peel | Astringent | Minerals

TASTE: Herbal or vegetal flavors are front and center on my first sip. A bit more of an oily mouthfeel, probably due to this version being NCF. I also got a cool mint flavor on the tongue. Not as much pepper or heat as the barrel proof version. This has a dry flavor and it fades quickly. This was a first for me in a bourbon.

FINISH: Nice warm finish that coats your throat and builds up to a bit of heat as it enters your chest. Lasts for well over a minute or so. This may actually drink hotter than the barrel proof version even though it’s almost 13 proof points lower.

SHARE WITH: Bar, try before you buy.

WORTH THE PRICE: Depends on your budget

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar, try before you buy.

OVERALL: This was the 1st Special Edition. There were only 500 cases produced for this edition. It is their only offering that is Non Chill Filtered. Bower Hill Special Editions will be an annual release and every year will be different from previous releases. All following releases will probably be smaller and therefore less than 500 cases will be produced. I found this bottle available online for $100.

The nose on this one stands out more so than the other 3 versions I tried. This one was a bit of an enigma for me. It starts out with some unique flavors but just dies on your palate. The flavors dissipate quickly and you’re left with a bit of a dry feeling in your mouth. I’ve never quite experienced this before and I found it a bit odd. Not bad or off putting, just different.

I’d rank my preference as:

Barrel Proof, Single Barrel, Special Reserve, and then the Barrel Reserve.

Learn more about Brent’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

Bower Hill Background

Bower Hill is a bourbon brand that was started by Carl Brown and Kevin Clang in 2015. Carl and Kevin were nice enough to devote some time out of their schedule to chat with me about Bower Hill. Needless to say I had a lot of questions. I will say that it was extremely refreshing to talk to a NDP that was so transparent about what they are doing and how they are doing it. Honesty and transparency are two things that bourbon fans are not exposed to when talking to or researching NDPs. While Bower Hill provided all of the tasting samples for this review at no charge, they did not pay for this review and all thoughts, opinions, and tasting notes are my own.

Carl and Kevin got involved in the alcohol business when they started a vodka/liqueur brand called Kra-ze Vodka. They still own the now dormant brand. Through their contacts and network of distributors they developed through Kra-ze, they were approached by someone who wanted them to bring him an ultra-premium brown spirit to sell. Specifically bourbon or American whiskey. They eventually came to a source that was able to provide them 10 barrels of 7 year old product in 2015. This original release was a Connecticut exclusive and sold out in their first production run of single barrel product.

In summary, the Bower Hill name came from the first and only bloodshed of the Whiskey Rebellion when a government tax collector resided at the Bower Hill Estate in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. On July 16th, 1794, 600 militia men marched on the mansion. By the next day, three men had died and the Bower Hill Mansion had been burnt to the ground.

The owners of the Bower Hill brand openly admit that they have no connection to the history of the Whiskey Rebellion but they thought that it would make for a good marketing story since it’s actually part of American history and is directly related to our beloved brown spirit.

Think what you want about NDPs and their marketing tactics, but I really liked the fact that these guys were up front and completely honest about what they are doing and how they are doing it. I much prefer honesty than the lies that some of these brands are out here trying to sell the bourbon buying public.

While for legal reasons the guys couldn’t tell me who actually supplies their juice, I can tell you that it is distilled, ricked, and aged in Louisville, KY. Bower Hill does all of their bottling under DSP-OH-28 in Silverton, OH.

They use a high Rye mash bill of “roughly 25%” and use the same mash bill for all of their bourbons. All of their bourbons are considered Small Batch.

They produced 16 barrels of their Barrel Proof Bourbon in 2018 and are on track for 25-30 Barrels in 2019.

Their Barrel Reserve product was their first “Special Edition” produced under their brand and was Non-Chill Filtered or NCF. There were 500 cases available. The Barrel Reserve releases will be a limited annual offering and every “Special Edition” release will be different with less than 500 cases available for each subsequent release.


Disclaimer: Bower Hill 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.


About the Author
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Brent Joseph

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Brent was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Journalism, he moved back to Indy where he eventually resurrected his family's brand of all beef kosher style hot dogs and opened a restaurant, King David Dogs, in downtown Indianapolis. When he's not juggling the many duties of an entrepreneur, he can usually be found relaxing at home with his wife, their twin boys, and their two dogs. Brent is a member of the Bourbon Society of Indianapolis, a BBQ enthusiast, and a cigar aficionado. Three things that are even better when enjoyed together with good friends. If Brent is not talking about bourbon, he's probably talking about sports, in particular, NFL football and Kansas Jayhawks basketball. You can follow his blog, BBQ and Bourbon here: http://bbqbourbon.tumblr.com/.

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