- DISTILLER: Wonderland Distilling
- MASH BILL: Three single ingredient whiskies (wheat, rye, corn) aged separately and blended.
- Created primarily from individually aged, Michigan-distilled rye and wheat whiskeys from partnering Michigan distilleries.
- Blended using the traditional Canadian method, with each grain—corn, wheat and rye—distilled on its own. By distilling, barreling and aging them separately, then blending after maturation, Wonderland whiskey is blended to create a consistent flavor profile with every bottle.
- BATCH: 1,000 bottles in Batch #1.
- AGE: NAS - No Age Statement
- YEAR: 2020
- PROOF: 84 Proof (42% ABV)
- MSRP: $43.99
- Purchase: Currently only available at select Michigan restaurants, bars, and retailers.
NOSE: Light Brown Sugar | Oak Sawdust | Birch Beer | Grains - Wheat, Barley, Rye Spice
TASTE: Apple Cider Vinegar | Light Hint of Root Beer Barrel Candies | Wheat Dominates
FINISH: Short But Pleasant | The Light Burn After Mouthwash | The Light Brown Sugar Returns | Spearmint
SHARE WITH: Tasting buddies and whiskey newbies. To me, this is a light but nuanced whiskey that doesn't have many comparables on the market. While it could replace Basil Hayden as an entry whiskey, anyone with a well stocked whiskey cabinet will find something unique here.
WORTH THE PRICE: At roughly $45, it is a bottle I would certainly pick one up if I were in Michigan and could get my hands on one.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is interesting enough to try at a Michigan bar or restaurant if you see it (and, in my opinion, would go with most foods). That being said, I think it's appropriately priced and don't think you should shy away from a whole bottle if you can find it.
OVERALL: I have a goal of drinking a whiskey from every state in the union and so jumped at the chance to try this offering from Michigan. This first expression by Wonderland is a really interesting take on a blend in that each component is a straight whiskey and then those straight whiskies are blended together. To me, the rye is most noticeable on the nose and the wheat certainly takes center stage on the palate.
It's also unique in that it doesn't have any of the really familiar American whiskey notes of caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, etc. in anything more than a whisper. The description from Wonderland mentions caramel twice, but I had a tough time pulling it out. As you can tell from my own tasting notes, however, I very much enjoy this.
If I were to offer a critique, I would like to see this bottled at a higher proof - over 90 would be nice and 100 would probably be perfect. It's lighter than it needs to be and would probably get lost in cocktail. If you're someone that won't consider purchasing a bottle unless it's near cask strength then I would probably steer clear of this one. This is different enough to not be for everyone, but I found it a very enjoyable sipper, and one that I think Michiganders should be proud of.
NOSE: Rye Spice | Anise | Raisins | Herbal Candy
TASTE: Crisp Rye Spice | Grass | Black Pepper | Candy Coated Licorice
FINISH: Sweet Candied Licorice followed by black pepper and mint.
SHARE WITH: Enjoy this one with folks that enjoy exploring how independent distillers are putting their own mark on the American whiskey landscape.
WORTH THE PRICE: $45 a bottle is about average for many craft distillers these days and with that in mind, this is much better than a lot of craft whiskey I've had over the past few years. While it tastes young, it's blended well and doesn't appear to have any major flaws from the distillation process that many other small distillers struggle with when they release their first run of whiskey.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Personally I rate this as a bar pour. It's not something I would drink a full bottle of at this age but with more time in the barrel I might just change my mind.
OVERALL: I stated above that it tastes young. I want to clarify that a bit as it doesn't taste young as a result of green barrel notes or accelerate aging from a small barrel. It tastes young because the whiskey is young. No age statement and a "blend of straight whiskeys" designation means it is comprised of a blend of whiskeys somewhere between 2 and 4 years old.
Fortunately the young age is balanced out a a bit by the unique combination of flavors that come from the rye, corn and wheat component whiskies creating an intriguing candied coated anise note that draws one back to the glass each time.
This was a fun one to experience and I think anyone that can get their hands on a glass should try it as well - at a bar or friends house to start. The fact that Wonderland Distilling also chose to release a blend of whiskeys instead of a straight rye or bourbon is also something I appreciate. Kudos to their team for doing something different and allowing drinkers to experience the distillery in a way that doesn't force immediate comparison to established brands in the market.
FOUR YEAR OLD STRAIGHT BOURBON
Proof: 84 (42% ABV)
Mash Bill: Three single ingredient whiskies wheat, rye and corn – independently aged and custom blended in small batches at our Muskegon facility.
Tasting Notes: Beginning with a sweet note of dark caramel, brown sugar, brioche and rasins, this blend has a long caramel finish with a hint of fresh mint.
“Why do we blend? We’re new here, so we blend to make sure you have a quality Michigan whiskey to drink while ours is aging. We’ve chosen three excellent single grain whiskeys, and meticulously blended, tasted and blended again until we arrived at the perfect blend – our very first spirit – Wonderland Blend of Straight Whiskeys."
WONDERLAND DISTILLING COMPANY’S FIRST SPIRIT RELEASE IS DISTILLED FOR THE ADVENTUROUS MICHIGANDER
Muskegon Craft Distillery’s Blend of Straight Whiskeys Available This Month
MUSKEGON, Mich., Aug. 5, 2020 – Muskegon-based craft distillery Wonderland Distilling is launching its very first product, a Blend of Straight Whiskeys, for retail sale this month. Created from individually-aged rye, corn and wheat whiskeys, the blend is expertly crafted by the Wonderland team for a truly unique, Michigan-inspired profile and taste.
Wonderland’s Blend of Straight Whiskeys is blended using the traditional Canadian method, with each grain—corn, wheat and rye—distilled on its own. By distilling, barreling and aging them separately, then blending them after maturation, Wonderland whiskey is blended with purpose to create a consistent flavor profile with every bottle. Every sip of Wonderland whiskey begins with a sweet nose of dark caramel, brown sugar, brioche and raisins, this blend has a long, caramel finish with a hint of fresh mint.
“Michiganders know what they’re going to get when they wake up every morning – a beautiful place to live, surrounded by the greatness of our lakes, the specter of our seasons and an adventure so close they can taste it,” said Mark Gongalski, CEO of Wonderland Distilling Company. “Wonderland Blend of Straight Whiskeys is distilled for the adventurous soul, an ode to this place that formed us. We crafted our whiskey as a reflection of our connection to Michigan’s great outdoors.”
Designed to celebrate Michigan’s abundant natural wonders, the bottles feature a picturesque woodland scene, while the neutral color palette invokes hues found in nature and brings to mind an outdoor lifestyle aesthetic. Displayed prominently on the bottle is Wonderland’s product commitment:
Wonderland was born in Michigan. Made from the desire for adventure, appreciative of all the splendid lands and waters surrounding, it embodies the passion to live a life untethered. We set out to create the best lifestyle spirits brand, one distilled for the adventurous soul.
“Wonderland consumers deserve the very best our state has to offer, which is why we have been intentional with every aspect of our whiskey. From sourcing local ingredients as much as possible and developing local partnerships, to our Michigan-made distilling equipment, every bottle is crafted to be authentically Michigan,” added Gongalski.
Wonderland’s first Blend of Straight Whiskeys was created primarily from individually aged, Michigan-distilled rye and wheat whiskeys from partnering distilleries across the state, hand-blended with purpose to create a specific taste profile. Wonderland also began distilling its own whiskey in early 2020.
The distillery’s tasting room, located at 1989 Lakeshore Drive in Muskegon’s Lakeside neighborhood, is currently under construction. When it opens in late summer, it will offer spirits, cocktails, a bar, patio and a private room for events. Wonderland is currently handcrafting additional spirits, including vodka, gin and rum, which will be available in the tasting room and on retail shelves later this year.
Disclaimer: Wonderland Distilling Company 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.