Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, but when one thinks of bourbon, one typically thinks of Kentucky. After all, 95% of all bourbon produced is made there. But one need not be in Kentucky to make fine bourbon; craft distilleries are popping up all over the United States, and several are producing excellent juice. That said, Delaware is not the first place I think of when I think of bourbon produced outside the bluegrass state, but here I am reviewing Diamond State Bourbon Whiskey, from Painted Stave Distilling, in Smyrna, Delaware.
According to the info I received with my bottle of Diamond State Bourbon:
Diamond State Whiskey was the last brand of whiskey produced in Delaware prior to prohibition. Our Diamond State Bourbon is the first legal bourbon made in Delaware, paying homage to our history.
I’m always a fan of drinking history. Bourbon was meant to be tasted, not collected. Painted Stave also disclosed some production details:
Mash Bill: 65% corn | 25% rye | 10% 6 row malted barley
Barrels: 10 gallons | #4 char
Proof: Distillation = 144 | Barrel Entry = 120 | Barrel Exit = 118 | Bottle (batch 2) = 94
Age: 12 months
Production: grain milled, mashed, and fermented in-house, then double distilled in a 250 gallon Vendome pot still.
Warehouse: brick/block construction, no climate control
Yes, you read that correctly – aged 12 months. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
Diamond State Bourbon Review
Name: Diamond State Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 94 proof / 47% ABV
Age: 12 months
How I Drank It: Neat, in a Glencairn Whisky Glass; later, in an old fashioned glass with a splash of water.
Nose: Candy Corn | Steen’s Cane Syrup | Clove | Banana | Nail Polish Remover
Taste: Sweet; syrupy sweet. Too sweet when neat. Vanilla sandwiched in between loads of young corn whiskey flavor and an astringent aftertaste. All the signature flavors of bourbon are missing, and the oak is barely noticeable. This doesn’t taste like anything resembling bourbon, but, despite its youth, it doesn’t taste like commercial moonshine either. I’d compare it to Jacob Beam’s Ghost, but it doesn’t resemble that much either. The closest thing I can compare it to is a lightly-aged rum. Adding a splash of water helps tame the sweetness.
The Burn: Very short, due to the overwhelming sweetness.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: Splash, or On the Rocks: I typically prefer my bourbon neat, but adding a splash of water helped dilute some of the less desirable qualities of this whiskey. That said, by the end of my glass, I was ready for a different whiskey.
Share With: Whiskey lovers who want to try something different, with a little history attached.
Worth The Price: I was provided with a bottle for review, but online the price is listed at $40. While this is a limited edition product, this just isn’t the bourbon for me. I appreciate and respect anyone willing to invest the time, energy, and resources into bringing any new spirits to market, but, in my opinion, this bourbon could greatly benefit from a few more years in the barrel. At $40, there are far superior bourbons. What I really want to know is how they achieved such a deep hue after only 12 months of aging?
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Try a glass before committing to a whole bottle.
Disclaimer: A sample of Diamond State bourbon was provided to us by Painted Stave Distilling for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the booze with no strings attached. Thank you.
Just bought a bottle that was double the age of the one you tested. Much better than the one you reviewed. Still slightly sweet, but the astringent character is not very apparent. I like the heavy rye overtones. FYI being from Southern Maryland I am a big fan of rye. I threw some ice cubes in the glass and it made a very acceptable Manhattan…….but certainly not ready for neat consumption just yet. Will keep following this product if it persists to see how it turns out in 3 or 4 more years. FWIW my palate tends to gravitate toward Basil Haydens……..but maybe that’s just the Southern Maryland connection again.
Phil, thanks for providing us an update on this one. Cheers!