The Pacific Northwest is at the forefront of the craft distillery movement. While no state has more distilleries than Washington, Oregon is not too far behind. Currently, Oregon has 69 distilleries that produce more than 400 different products.
Know Your Whiskey
Stein Distillery Straight Bourbon
Stein Distillery was started in Joseph, Oregon in 2009. They make three different American whiskeys, rum, vodka, and fruit cordials. The three whiskeys are all distilled and bottled in Joseph using ingredients found in Oregon. The bourbon is 80 proof and aged for three years.
Oregon Spirit Distillers C.W. Irwin Straight Bourbon
C.W. Irwin is distilled and bottled by Oregon Spirit Distillers in Bend, Oregon. They make a straight bourbon, wheat whiskey, vodka, genever, absinthe, and spiced rum. The bourbon is 80 proof and aged for three years in medium char, new white American oak barrels.
Eastside Distilling Burnside Bourbon
Eastside Distilling can be found on Portland’s popular Distillery Row. Unlike the other two, they source their four year bourbon from multiple producers (but not MGP). They make vodka and rums along with cherry bomb whiskey and marionberry whiskey. Their Burnside Bourbon is one of Oregon’s most popular bourbons and their Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon is the same juice, only aged an additional 60 days in new 59-gallon heavy-charred Oregon oak barrels.
Our Tasting Notes
Stein Straight Bourbon has notes of corn and a bit of char on the nose. This two year bourbon lacks depth and complexity. The palate displays some light corn, a hint of malt and orange. There’s a also a bit of toffee but no flavors jumped out, everything was pretty subdued.
C.W. Irwin Straight Bourbon had a very sweet nose with a lot of caramel. On the palate it was smooth and sweet with notes of caramel, candy corn, mint, blackberry, and apple. It had more complexity and balance than the Stein but I expect much more from a bourbon that I would stock in my liquor cabinet. It didn’t taste quite as “young” as the Stein but it was definitely there. After 30 seconds or so, pleasant char notes come through.
Burnside Bourbon’s nose was way spicier than the previous two bourbons. It also had hints of straw and caramel. At 96 proof, it was also much bolder than the first two. This bourbon had lots of sweet notes but also spice, not a big shock after its prevalence on the nose. This is a rich bourbon heavy with vanilla, oak, and cinnamon. Very good and by far my favorite of the three.
The Collective Favorite
Burnside Bourbon took the majority with 48% of the group’s votes and Stein and C.W. Irwin split the remaining 52%. I figured Burnside would be the group’s favorite bourbon but was surprised to see Stein and C.W. equally liked by the group.
There are many other great distilleries in Oregon, especially in Portland and the surrounding suburbs. Make sure to check some out the next time you visit our friends to the south and if you like their spirits, pick up a bottle to help the local movement.
Thanks to everyone who came last night! To join us at future tastings, sign up on our email list at seattlewhiskeycollective.com.