Tasting #13 Recap: American Whiskey

We broke into our second year of tastings with a bit of a twist—American whiskeys that divert from bourbon and rye. These unique offerings turned heads and were fun to discuss.

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Know Your Whiskey

High West Son of Bourye

High West Distillery is located in Park City, Utah. Son of Bourye is a follow-up product to the original sold-out Bourye and is a blend of bourbon and rye, each a minimum of five years old. As we’ve mentioned before, High West sources all their whiskey from large distilleries, this one from LDI (now MGP) in Indiana. Although the exact blend is kept secret, they claim “no bourbon today has more rye in the final product.”

Dry Fly Straight Triticale Whiskey

Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane was founded in 2007 and is Washington’s first distillery since prohibition. Their most popular whiskeys are a wheat whiskey and a bourbon, but in 2013, they launched this triticale whiskey in a line of four specialty releases. Triticale is a hybrid of wheat and rye developed in Scotland and Sweden in the 1800s. To our knowledge, only a few distilleries make triticale whiskey: Corsair Distillery in Tennessee, Feisty Spirits in Colorado, and Skip Rock’s Headwaters (unaged) right here in Snohomish, WA. Some believe it could be the future of whiskey and Dry Fly says it “may be their best offering yet." Read on to see if we agreed.

Balcones Baby Blue Corn Whiskey

Balcones Distilling’s Baby Blue Corn Whiskey was the first whiskey sold in Texas since prohibition. It is distilled with a mash of 100% Hopi blue corn, one of the few distilleries in the country to do so. Their website says it’s “the only craft-made whisky to have received a 5-star rating from F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal other than Balcones ‘1’ Texas Single Malt.” Since opening six years ago, Balcones has received numerous awards including Whisky Magazine’s “Craft Whiskey Distillery of the Year.” They were also the first American distiller to win first place in the single malt category at the England’s 2012 “Best in Glass” competition, a very high honor.

Our Tasting Notes

High West’s Son of Bourye is another solid whiskey from High West, although perhaps not as distinguished as the Double Rye we tasted previously. We were able to pick out some boldness of bourbon and spice typical of ryes, but thoughts were mixed if each was represented fully. The bourbon did carry along a pretty heavy mouth feel and a sweet caramel beginning, making this a pretty “sippable” rye even without additions. The spice and hints of cinnamon finished it off, but the linger was a bit lacking.

Dry Fly’s triticale whiskey is the most difficult to review with triticale new to the whiskey scene. This is a light, smooth, soft whiskey (only 88 proof) and was described by one of our members as “an unfinished malt.” Grassy, grainy notes on the nose turned to slightly vanilla flavors with hints of fruit. This whiskey didn’t have much of a finish and seemed noticeably young. The flavors should continue to be explored, but this didn’t stand out to many at our tasting in its present state.

Balcones Baby Blue. “Is this whiskey?” declared a member upon smelling his glass. Admittedly, many agreed this smells more like tequila (what?) than whiskey, with thoughts of margarita on the mind. Upon tasting, Baby Blue becomes earthy and some envisioned barbecue and a bit of smoke. Many were even reminded of a single malt, but with corn—this is a wildly unique whiskey with newfound flavors. It has refreshing balance of burnt flavors, nuttiness, and sweetness all the way through the finish.

The Collective Favorite

High West took the majority with 62% of votes for its boldness, followed by 29% favoring Balcones’ complexity and utterly unique flavors. Dry Fly’s Triticale came in with the fewest votes.

Surely these three whiskeys would rarely be compared in such a way, but we take a vote nonetheless to gauge what the group enjoyed!

Thanks to everyone who came last night! To join us at future tastings, sign up on our email list at seattlewhiskeycollective.com.