There’s definitely more wood in the nose, with sweet oak and resin heavily accenting the grain. It’s a little less savory than my first encounter, but I still get plenty of buttery dough and flaky pastry crust.
The finish, more generous now, still sees a touch of wintergreen, alongside cherry cola and a lingering cinnamon toast note. WildernessTrail tells us that plans are in the works for wider distribution of this whiskey and a six-year-old rye release that should be launching soon.
A recovering Federal government employee of 10+ years, he is happy to have finally found a career where it is acceptable to drink on the job. This high-rye Bourbon opens with a mild caramel aroma and a hint of wooziness on the nose.
The palate echoes those notes, adding water tames the heat while maintaining the caramel, roasted nuts and hint of butterscotch. All that winds into a drying baking spice finish laced with citrus zing.
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When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retested. About the ScoresRatings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product.
GoodSuitable for everyday consumption; often good value Products deemed unacceptable (receiving a rating below 80 points) are not reviewed.
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Combining over 20 years of industry experience in providing yeast and distillery optimization services to distilleries as consultants, Pat and Shane have a wealth of experience solving distillation issues such as starting up from scratch, limiting bacterial contamination, developing mash bills, analyzing grain quality, managing yeast strains, and consulting on the fermentation process. Armed with this technical knowledge and a vast collection of over 400 yeast strains, Shane and Pat had all the key ingredients needed to approach things differently and create a state-of-the-art distillery at WildernessTrail that would be leading the charge when it came to combining traditional techniques with modern scientific distillation techniques.
They also implemented an infusion mashing process, use clean steam instead of chemicals to sterilize their equipment and prevent bacterial contamination of fermentation, source local grains from within a mile-and-a-half radius for all their products, and have some of the lowest barrel entry proofs in the business. Barrels are then stored in various rick houses for a minimum of 4 years. In February 2020 it was announced that the distillery was the first to grow sufficiently in size since its operations started to migrate from the Kentucky BourbonTrail Craft Tour to the Kentucky BourbonTrail with the other big name distilleries such as Wild Turkey and Heaven Hill.
The current WildernessTrail portfolio consists of their single barrel Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky straight heated bourbon whiskey, a small batch Bottled-in-Bond high rye Bourbon, and a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, as well as Harvest Rum and Blue Heron Vodka. This mash bill substitutes the 24% wheat found in their Bottled-in-Bond Single Barrel offering for 24% Kentucky-grown Heritage rye from a local farm as a flavoring grain instead whilst the percentage of corn (64%) and malted barley (12%) remained consistent.
This whiskey was fermented using WildernessTrail’s sweet mash technique before being distilled using their 250-gallon Genome Pot Hybrid Still which was replaced by a 40 ft, 18-inch column still and 250 gallon copper doublers in 2016. Nose: The nose opens with heavy floral vanilla, soft caramel, a touch of dark stone fruit, grains like young rye and sweet corn, earthy baking spices, and faint charred oak in the back with some very light alcohol.
Palate: The palate opens viscous with caramelized peanuts fading to deep brown sugar and peppery earthy rye spice mixed with dried cherries, a touch of zesty citrus, and some charred oak spice on the back of the tongue. Although just 4 years old, this whiskey has already started to transition from being young, aggressive, and grain-forward, to being balanced, with elements of maturity, and the influence of the barrel becoming apparent.
The young earthy rye, sweet buttery corn, and zesty malted barley notes shine bright throughout adding bold flavors whilst the more mature notes of charred oak, baking spices, and soft caramel add balance. The effects of WildernessTrail’s innovative production techniques are also apparent throughout with the lack of aggressively spicy or ‘green’ oak no doubt being a result of their low barrel entry proof, the soft delicious flavors being down to their sweet mash process, and their decision not to chill filter giving this whiskey a fantastic mouthfeel that compliments the flavors really well.
These guys have a deep understanding of what works and what does not, and so they are taking these skills and applying them in a way that has resulted in WildernessTrail quickly moving up the ranks of reputation. In fact, based on the rate at which word of their distilling and production prowess is spreading I know their brand will soon be a household name on both sides of the pond.
So really it’s the WildernessTrail Heated Single Barrel Bottled In Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that we’re reviewing today… but who wants to read that over and over? Clocking in at 5 years this is pretty much the upper limit for this young Kentucky distillery.
There can be a lot of variability in single casks and for the overall sake of this whiskey I sure hope this is just a bad example of what their heated mash becomes. It carries too much of that immature, raw, woody, craft whiskey, profile that I just can’t get over.