Watershed Distillery Barrel Strength Bourbon Apple Brandy Finish Review Header

Watershed Distillery Barrel Strength Bourbon Finished In Apple Brandy Barrels Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Jarrod Lapato1 Comment

“…This spirit exceeds all of our expectations – rich on the nose, balanced on the palate with a crisp red apple finish from the apple brandy barrel. It’s truly a unique bourbon…”Greg Lehman - Watershed Distillery CEO
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  • DISTILLER: Watershed Distillery
  • MASH BILL: Corn | Wheat | Rye | Barley | Spelt (% undisclosed)
  • AGE: 6 Year
  • YEAR: 2020
  • PROOF: 119.3 (59.6% ABV) Non-Chill Filtered
  • MSRP: $69.99 in Ohio and similar pricing in other markets
  • WHERE TO BUY: Slated to release on September 19, 2020, at Watershed Distillery’s Columbus based bottle shop. This special release will have highly limited allocation at Ohio state liquor agencies beginning on September 21, with additional limited allocation beginning in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Michigan in early October.

NOSE: Red Licorice | Candy Apples | Bread | Spice

TASTE: Alcohol | Mixed Grains | Dark Fruits | Apple

FINISH: Long warm finish of sweet rye spice, nutmeg, apple tart, oak and plums

SHARE WITH: Similar to their previous bourbon release (Reviewed here) this is not your typical sweet-corn dominated bourbon whiskey. Due to its multigrain mash bill and unique finishing, it is enticingly complex. Add to that its respectable 119+ proof and I think this powerhouse is one you share with experienced whiskey drinkers during an evening of conversation… and/or fans of barrel strength whiskies interested in trying something a little different.

WORTH THE PRICE: I believe it is. I wouldn’t like to pay much more for it, but considering the current environment, $70 for a truly unique, barrel strength craft bourbon is more than acceptable to me.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: I’d go for the bottle! This more than likely won’t make it into all markets, but if you do see it and are ready for something different, get it. If $70 is out of your comfort zone, definitely try it out at a bar. 

OVERALL: This special, limited release bourbon celebrates the 10 Year Anniversary for Watershed Distillery. It is actually the same distillate as their previous 4 year old Watershed Bourbon, but with two additional years of age on it. It was then finished in spent Apple Brandy barrels and bottled at barrel strength. 

Cutting straight to the chase, I really enjoyed it! At the initial pop of the top, a deceivingly innocent apple sweetness wafted up from the bottle and immediately put a smile on my face. Poured into a Watershed Distillery branded Glencairn glass, the color was exceptionally deep and rich with an intriguing aroma. 

As I spent more time deciphering the nose, additional notes began to evolve. There was the expected abundance of alcohol in the beginning, but as that began to fade, a sweet red strawberry licorice emerged. The sugary sweet candy apple expanded to include crisp red apple, and slightly tart apple skins. The oak came out, as did some dark fruits, a hearty bread note and some traditional baking spices, as well as something sharp and biting that I attributed to the spicy rye grain.

Lulled into a false sense of calm by the non-threatening, sweet and rich nose, I inadvertently stumbled directly into the path of a swift and powerful left hook as I took the first sip. Slightly stunned, but unafraid, I bounced off the ropes, regained my composure and squared back up to this heavyweight challenger with a newfound respect. Now knowing what to expect, I was much better able to handle what it was throwing at me.

With each successive sip, I was able to pick up on the different flavors each of the grains imparted on the whiskey. The spicy rye took center stage but the corn and wheat and barley were all represented as well. Digging deeper, as the heavy alcohol began to fade, more of the softer spices like nutmeg and cinnamon could be found. Sweeter fruits like plums and dates, apples and pineapple also made themselves known. There was a fair amount of the mouth drying oak tannins that slightly distracted from the overall taste experience, but all in all, a very enjoyable, unique bourbon. 

It did remain a little hot throughout (typical for a barrel strength whiskey), so for the final few sips, I added several drops of water to what was left in the glass. As expected, the water mellowed things out considerably and brought the grains forward. All the sweetness was still still there, but softer and more enjoyable. I’m not one of those people that adds water to every whiskey I drink, but I frequently do with barrel strength whiskeys. I must say, I really liked what the water did to this one. Beyond taking the bite away, it made the mouthfeel much chewier and the flavors more earthy and palpable. It even brought out some of the softer notes like honey, caramel and a really nice unsweetened dark chocolate. 

Like most barrel strength whiskeys, this wouldn’t fall into the casual, ‘daily sipper’ category… at least not for myself. There are plenty of other whiskeys I find more appropriate for when you are simply looking for a quick pour to help unwind and take the edge off. While this one would certainly take the edge off, it deserves your full attention. My recommendation… wait until after dinner, when you’re all fed and settled in for the evening. Get yourself a healthy pour, add a spoonful of water, grab a big chuck of dark chocolate, and a nice mild cigar (if you’re into that type of thing), and cozy into your favorite chair for a while. Thats it, the rest will take care if itself. Enjoy friends, and as always… #drinkcurious. 

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

New limited release anniversary bourbon expression commemorates 10 years of independent distilling at Watershed Distillery

COLUMBUS, OHIO (September 1, 2020) – Watershed Barrel Strength Bourbon, a limited release bourbon expression from Watershed Distillery, is slated to release on September 19, 2020, at Watershed Distillery’s Columbus based bottle shop. Liquorstore allocation to select stores throughout Ohio begins onSeptember 21, with allocation to additional U.S. markets to follow in early October.

The barrel strength bourbon, an extremely limited and special release, is Watershed’s most mature and complex bourbon to date. It is aged six years, finished in spent apple brandy barrels; distilled, aged, and bottled entirely at the Chesapeake Avenue distillery. This expression, Watershed’s first ever barrel strength bourbon offering, is releasing in honor of the brand’s 10-year anniversary as an independent Ohio distillery.

At its heart, Watershed celebrates community and collaboration. This super-premium bourbon is a result of sourcing ingredients from close to home, bringing together people and ideas, and never taking shortcuts. “We’ve been working on this bourbon for quite some time now,” stated Watershed Distillery’s CEO Greg Lehman. “But our work has paid off as this spirit exceeds all of our expectations — rich on the nose, balanced on the palate with a crisp red apple finish from the apple brandy barrel. It’s truly a unique bourbon, and I know I speak for the whole team when I say we can’t wait for our supporters and craft spirits fans to get their hands on a bottle.”

Long aging, plus finishing in barrels that previously held apple brandy, helps to create a deeply complex bourbon with both richness and balanced sweetness. The anniversary barrel strength bourbon layers aromas of baked apples and toasted almonds with flavors of warm baking spices, dark fruit and caramel and ends with a crisp red apple finish and medium mouthfeel.  Best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, Watershed Barrel Strength Bourbon is 119.3 proof and available in 750 ml bottles with a shelf price of $69.99 in Ohio and similar pricing in other markets. This special release will have highly limited allocation at Ohio state liquor agencies beginning on September 21, with additional limited allocation beginning in Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Michigan in early October.

For more information on the distillery or Watershed Barrel Strength Bourbon and  availability, please visit www.watersheddistillery.com.

Disclaimer: Watershed Distillery 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
Jarrod Lapato

Jarrod Lapato


Jarrod, also known as "Mr. Scotch", is relatively new to the world of whiskey. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, he graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Finance and is now living in St. Augustine, FL with his wife and cat. While his career so far has run the gamut from stockbroker to small business owner, Personal Trainer to Acquisitions Specialist for the county, he is currently enjoying a little time off to work on personal projects and explore new opportunities. He has been fine tuning his taste for Scotch Whisky over the past few years and has recently begun to expand his personal whiskey collection to include selections from other regions of the world, with a strong representation of the American made spirits... bourbon and rye whiskies. Hobbies include travel, photography, woodworking, home rehabbing... and working on that never ending whiskey wishlist.


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    It is interesting how many candy notes you get from this. Even though apple brandy is not cognac, I tend to think of them in the same vein and I do find whisky in cognac to have circus peanut notes! Ha ha! I love your very imaginative descriptions and the way you bring the whiskey to life. It is helpful for getting a taste across on the page! So glad to see you back here! I look forward to more reviews!

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