- DISTILLER: Still Austin Whiskey Co.
- MASH BILL: 26% Blue Corn | 25% White Corn | 44% Rye | 5% Malted Barley
- AGE: At least 4 years, bottled-in-bond
- YEAR: 2023
- PROOF: 100 (50% ABV)
- MSRP: $79.99
- BUY ONLINE: Still Austin's Website
SHARE WITH: All bourbon fans, especially those harboring doubts about Texas bourbon.
WORTH THE PRICE: $80 is a bit high compared to larger distillery BIBs, but it's craft whiskey, and sometimes you gotta pay a bit more for it. And if you don't, it may sell out before you can try it, which happened with this one.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar, mostly because it may be all you ever see.
OVERALL: This is Release No. 3 in a Still Austin bottled-in-bond series that includes a Red Corn Bourbon and a High Rye Bourbon. Since both were well regarded by the Bourbon & Banter team, we were happy to receive samples late last year.
On this one, the nose is a little muted for me: a balance of spring flowers and rye with a bit of oak in the background. You have to be patient to coax out some obscurities like white icing on gingerbread and Bottle Caps cola flavor. Some rye bread dough comes on with time.
The palate is equally subtle, a softie, frankly, and it takes some concentration to identify its virtues. Cooked corn, rye and dried lemon peel lead the way with back notes of eucalyptus (think a faint hum of Ricola throat lozenges) bringing up the rear. The finish is medium-length, herbal and warming. (I don't focus too much on finishes, but medium length and heat from a good 100-proof finish can be a treat, and this one is.)
What's most intriguing about this bourbon is its lack of sweetness. A glance at the mash bill shows it's limited to 51% corn, which explains a lot of it since it's roughly 25% lower than most bourbons on the market. I can't decide whether I like that reduced sweetness, but it's got my attention. What I do like about it is the distiller's desire to go a little against the typical bourbon grain bill.
What's also intriguing is the monster rye portion (44%) of the mashbill. I don't recall seeing such a high rye bourbon ever, not even in Still Austin's own High Rye Bourbon (which is only 25%.) But, strangely enough, the rye doesn't come in roaring with spice notes like you might assume. In fact, I've triple-checked that mashbill to ensure 44% isn't a typo, but the math doesn't lie. So where is that rye punch in the face I expected?
When sweetness falls short in a traditionally sweet bourbon, what do you do? I make an old fashioned with it to see if bitters, demerara syrup and some dilution will bring it to life. It did, and unexpectedly, its oak notes came to the fore along with some baking spice. While I expect to sip this neat a few times more, I'm betting Still Austin Blue Corn BIB Bourbon will serve better in some upcoming cocktails.
“As a distiller, I've always wanted to push the boundaries with the amount of rye in a bourbon mash-bill," said John Schrepel, head distiller at Still Austin. "With blue corn being such a sweet variety of corn, it was the perfect fit to achieve 44% rye in this bourbon blend. This is my personal favorite spirit that we've ever produced.”
- Nose: The spirit boasts notes of cream soda and malted milk, with a hint of spiced plum and country apple cider.
- Palate: With the first sip, the palate is greeted with a velvety texture, with intricate notes of dark-chocolate candied citrus, followed by the sweetness of carrot cake and buttercream frosting. Hints of crème de menthe, nougat, and Manuka honey elevate the flavor of this bourbon.
- Finish: The finish is well-balanced with chewy notes of dark sherry and crème brûlée, with lingering notes of eucalyptus, oak spice, and black tea.
Disclaimer: Bourbon & Banter received a sample of this product from the brand for review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.