Since the last Ohio-based bourbon made me ashamed of my home state, I was eager to review Middle West Spirits‘ OYO Bourbon Whiskey with the hope of proving that the Buckeye State is not completely ignorant in the world of whiskey. This isn’t the first time I have tried the Michelone’s Reserve Bourbon from Middle West. I frequently include it on my list of recommended bourbons for bourbon tastings but before I explain why that is, let’s hear what their website has to say about this bourbon.
Four generations of distilling traditions and one particularly determined grandfather inspired Middle West Spirits’ first Master’s Blend. This small-batch whiskey pairs the finest Kentucky straight bourbon with our award-winning OYO Whiskey to create a smooth, smoky, and softly sweet bourbon that proudly bears the name of the grandfather who inspired it all. The Michelone Reserve is a flavor-forward blend of sweet yellow corn, soft red winter wheat, dark pumpernickel rye, and two-row barley.
Tasting Notes: ”Dark amber color. Aromas of banana, coconut cream pies and toffeed nuts with a supple, fruity medium-to-full body and a sweet cream, dried fruit, honeyed whole nut, incense and baking spices driven finish. A flavorful and elegantly balanced bourbon.” – International Review of Spirits, Beverage Testing Institute
In practical terms this means that Middle West has found a really interesting middle road of craft bourbon production. They focus on creating their own wheat whiskey and then blend it with a carefully selected sourced rye bourbon to create a blend. The result is a wheated bourbon that still retains the rye bite. The reason I often recommend it for bourbon tastings is that the flavor profile of this bourbon is very different from traditional bourbons and is a great example of the new and interesting direction that craft distillers will be taking bourbon in future years.
Age: Under Four Years
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.
My Nose Noticed:* Cedar | Honey | Corn | Banana
First Sip: Butterscotch | Peach | Corn | Cedar/Spearmint
The Burn:** A very strong and long finish but not unpleasant. The initial flavor slips quickly over your tongue and then it is all about the burn. It drinks smooth and wheaty but the finish leaves you with the tingling on the tongue and a mild heat in the throat. But oddly enough it is almost a cool burn. There is bitterness to the final taste that was not my favorite flavor. I think the finish shows the youth of this bourbon a bit.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: I tried it with a splash and then with a nice ice ball. With the water the sweeter flavors came out much more and tempered the bitterness of the finish. The ice had a similar effect but more so. As the ice melted it quickly diluted it a bit too much. I think the splash wins for me but if I wanted to take it easy and linger over the bourbon without paying it too much attention I would enjoy it with some rocks.
Share With: People who are feeling adventurous. This is a bourbon that has a very different flavor profile than traditional bourbons. If you have had a long, steady love of bourbon but are looking to get into something a little different on the weekend this would be a good place to start.
Worth The Price: At $50 a bottle it is steep but in line with other craft bourbons and most of them come nowhere near being worth the price. If you regularly spend $50 a bottle on spirits I don’t think this one will leave you feeling cheated.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Like I said above, if you regularly spend $50 on bottles of bourbon this is well worth having, especially if you like pulling out unique bottles for guests and storytelling. But if a $50 bottle is a once or twice a year treat for you then stick with trying it at a bar.