BLANCO, Texas (June 1, 2023) — When others go big, Milam & Greene Whiskey goes small. The award-winning whiskey brand is releasing the aptly named Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey: Batch 1. This whiskey marks several company milestones including the introduction of the first bourbon distilled by Milam & Greene in Kentucky, the first whiskey to be finished with French oak staves, the first addition to the Milam & Greene core portfolio in over two years, and the first whiskey to be awarded a Gold Medal at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition before it was even launched.
To create the inaugural batch of Milam & Greene Very Small Batch Bourbon, master blender Heather Greene harvested 75 bourbon barrels. These barrels are a combination of bourbon distilled by master distiller Marlene Holmes in Kentucky using the proprietary Milam & Greene mash bill and barrels of Tennessee bourbon. The barrel recipe for Batch 1 is 20% of the precious Kentucky barrels and 80% Tennessee barrels. The barrels are divided into smaller batches to marry in 1,000-gallon vatting tanks before finishing.
“At Milam & Greene, everything we do is in limited quantities because of our size, but I know the big whiskey geek question is: exactly how small is this release?” says Milam & Greene Whiskey CEO and Master Blender Heather Greene who wanted to get in front of the question. “With 75 bourbon barrels, we can release 1,500 9L cases of Very Small Batch Bourbon. The amount of people who will be able to purchase this bottle is approximately 0.00451% of the entire population based on current U.S. Census numbers, a detail that delights our fans and makes me laugh at the same time.”
“At Milam & Greene, everything we do is in limited quantities because of our size, but I know the big whiskey geek question is: exactly how small is this release?”
The Kentucky whiskey base in Very Small Batch Bourbon is distilled by the Milam & Greene team using their signature mash bill of 70% corn, 22% malted rye, and 8% malted barley. The use of malted rye provides a rich texture and nuttiness that makes it approachable at a young age – a little goes a long way in terms of taste. For Batch 1, the barrels are aged in Kentucky and then Texas for just shy of 4 years.
The Tennessee bourbon was distilled with a mash bill of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. The particular barrels for Very Small Batch Bourbon are chosen for their unique flavor character and will vary slightly from batch to batch reflecting the influence of the environment as the whiskey matures. Greene selects barrels based not only on their current quality but also on her predictions for the flavor development over time in barrels. She carefully chooses the location for barrel aging to ensure the extraction of the most flavor. This batch is a reflection of the climate on whiskey from three different states: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.
Greene continues, “Using very small batches as the heart of our new whiskey allows for greater control over the final product. It takes much more attention to detail to produce an elegant whiskey using smaller quantities of bourbon and three different climates, but it allows for an incredible amount of artistry in flavor. I’m particularly partial to the delivery of esters in my glass, the refined fruit, floral and herbaceous notes harnessed mostly during fermentation and mashing that are often lost in many whiskeys. This is the type of Bourbon that is missing in many collections, and one I wanted to drink.”
To perfect the precise type of wood flavor without overpowering these refined ester notes, Very Small Batch Bourbon is finished with French oak staves. French oak casks that once held both tawny port wine and then Milam & Greene’s award-winning rye whiskey are broken down, then “cooked” in the 100-degree Texan summer sun, and finally house-charred to a crisp on the outside only. These crispy-on-the-outside, rye-kissed on-the-inside staves are tied in bundles and then steeped in Very Small Batch Bourbon for about two weeks in the vatting tanks. The distilling team tastes the bourbon daily during the finishing process to ensure a balance of flavors.
The result is a complex and sophisticated bourbon. The nose starts sweet and delicious, followed by some nuttiness, soft vanilla, and French toast aromas. The palate is fruit-forward sweetness at the beginning, quickly evolving to notes of black tea with fresh baked biscuit flavors in the mid-palate. The finish lingers with notes of fresh black pepper and cardamom and a hint of wintergreen.
Very Small Batch Bourbon is bottled at 108 proof / 54% ABV allowing the flavors to shine when sipped neat, and to further open up with a drop of still water. This elegant bourbon style is a high-end sipper, meant to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks.
Pricing and Availability
Milam & Greene Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey: Batch 1 is available for $69.99 at select fine retailers in the U.S. and in Alberta, Canada as well as available on the Milam & Greene website and in the distillery tasting room. This whiskey will be released twice a year with Batch 2 coming this fall. Milam & Greene whiskey is distributed by Southern Wine and Spirits, Empire Merchants, Heidelberg Distributing, Brescome Barton, and Winebow Fine Wine and Spirits.