It is Bourbon Heritage month so I thought I would taste two Bourbons on my “Tasting Wednesday” blogs for the rest of the month. I am starting with “The Mattie Gladden”. This is the high rye bourbon from Alan Bishop at the Spirits of French Lick Distillery. Alan wants to develop an “Indiana style” Bourbon. Everyone knows what Kentucky Bourbon tastes like, so Alan wants a slightly different flavor profile for his whiskey. One of the ways he is doing that is through the use of beer malts in the mash to give the whiskey a little different taste profile. He also uses heirloom corn in some of his recipes. The mash bill here is 55% corn, 35% rye and 10% victory malt. It is a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon.
The other Bourbon is the newest release from the Watershed Distillery in Columbus, Ohio. This is a 6-year-old Bourbon finished in apple Brandy barrels. It is cask strength and non-chill filtered. This is a limited release expression produced to help them celebrate 10 years of distilling. I am excited about this whiskey because it is similar to a whiskey I would like to see made by an artisan distillery. I would like to see a corn whiskey aged in fruit brandy barrels. Corn whiskey is required to be aged in used or uncharred cooperage, so why not use fruit brandy barrels to pick up a little of the fruit brandy flavors?
The cigar I am pairing with these Bourbons is a My Father #2 Belicosa cigar. I find the smoke to be sweet tobacco, vanilla and a hint of an umami flavor and spice. I think it will pair well with these Bourbons.
The Mattie Gladden Bourbon Bottled-in-Bond
Age: 4 Years Old
Nose: Corn, chocolate cake batter and porter beer with a little oak.
Taste: Lots of chocolate, toasted hazelnuts, cardamom spice and dried fruit – raisins and prunes. When tasted with a dried cranberry, caramel comes forward with some additional baking spice notes and dried apricot fruit. When tasted with a pecan, a hazelnut coffee flavor comes forward and cinnamon and nutmeg spices replace the cardamom.
Finish: Medium long with sweet oak, chocolate, dried fruit and spice. The cranberry added a floral note to the finish and the pecan enhanced the oak with cinnamon spice.
The cigar made the spice a white pepper spice with some caramel added to the chocolate. The Bourbon made the cigar a little sweeter and spicier. A very good pairing.
Watershed Bourbon Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels
Age: 6 Years Old
Nose: Caramel apples, hazelnuts and oak. Not overly complex, but pleasant.
Taste: Caramel apples, a little corn husk and pepper with a little raspberry fruit in the background. Tasted with a dried cranberry, the apple and berry fruits come forward and finally some oak comes out in the taste. Tasted with a pecan and a butter note appears and the corn husk recedes into the background. Note – Add a little water and the corn husk also recedes into the background.
Finish: Medium long and dry with pepper spice and a hint of oak tannins. The cranberry makes the pepper a bit stronger and a pecan brings out the oak.
The cigar made the corn husk flavor stronger and made the apple a green apple. The Bourbon added some dried fruit notes to the smoke. A good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
September 9, 2020 at 1:05 pm
I am a bit confused. The Watershed calls itself bourbon and you refer to this spirit as bourbon and/or “corn whiskey” which apparently need not be aged in charred oak barrels. I thought that the definition of bourbon required the spirit to be aged in charred barrels. What am I missing?
September 9, 2020 at 8:56 pm
It was a Bourbon finished in apple brandy barrels. Technically it is now a finished whiskey, not a Bourbon
September 10, 2020 at 9:38 pm
Meaning it was originally put into charred oak barrels then finished in apple brandy barrels, thus changing its designation, but still allowed “Bourbon” on the bottle?