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Most Recent Whisky Review

Bushmills #3 Char Bourbon Cask

I always question "bourbon cask" finished as a feature of any whisky as most Scotch and Irish is matured in Bourbon casks.  It is like saying a "metal car" or a "terrible Brexit plan"; it's a  bit redundant.  Bushmills have highlghted the #3 char of oak casks used (meaning a few seconds less exposure to fire than the more common #4) as the USP of this expression.  The nose is malty with banana, vanilla and milk chocolate.  The taste also has malt and nuts, lemon citrus peel and sweet peanut brittle.  The finish is initially sugar coating on tongue with a spicy note of cinnamon and tamale hots candy at the end.  At end of the day it is another bourbon cask finished whisky and there is not much here that stands out so if you are in mood for no-age expression Bushmills (and why not) I would probably recommend Black Bush over this one.

 

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  • Wednesday, 11 April 2012 01:40

    A Visit to Garrison Brothers Distillery

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    So Easter weekend I had my first opportunity to visit my "local" whiskey distilery.  In fact this visit had a lot of firsts for me.  It was my first bourbon distillery, my first US distillery and the first distillery where we were greeted by the founder and owner of the distillery, in this case Dan Garrison of Garrison Brothers.  Pretty cool.  Located in Hye, this is Texas' first legal bourbon distillery since prohibition and is producing a very nice product.  They charge $10 for a tour but as this is one of the most interactive distillery tours I have ever been on and as they patiently waited for their whiskey to mature (resisting the temptation to sell white dog spirit or put an immature product on the market) I didn't mind paying.  My favorite aspect of this tour  was the fact we were able to try and taste at every stage of production.  We could taste the mash after the corn, wheat and malted barley had been cooked (it was bit like sweet breakfast oatmeal), then taste the distillers beer during fermentation (quite sour but with some fruit), white dog spirit off the still at 140 proof (hot and herbal) and finally (of course) the matured, Texas straight bourbon.   What are the main differences between a single malt and bourbon distillery? The first was the grain recipe.  Garrison Brothers use corn, wheat and malted barley (but no rye which is often found in bourbon recipes) while single malt distilleries of Scotland use only malted barley.  In Scotland the sugars are extracted by adding hot water to the grains, in bourbon making the process involves actually cooking the grains in water to extract the sugars.  The fermentation process in most malt distilleries produces a "beer" of around 8% ABV, Garrison Brothers beer was closer to 16% ABV.  Finally the distillation of the bourbon was done in a single still whereas single malt is always double distilled and sometimes triple distilled.   Garrison uses 500 gal of beer at 15%  ABV which is put into the steam heated stills and in turn produces about 150 gal of 140 proof (or 70% ABV) white dog spirit that is aged for at least 2 years in oak casks so that it can be called "straight" bourbon.  Garrison Brothers use a #4 char, also known as alligator char (and the "alligator" in the Ardbeg Alligator).

    They have no license to sell liquor so we couldn't actually buy a bottle at the distillery so I bought a T shirt instead, but there is a licensed store when you turn off the main road for Garrison Bros.  I believe if you are whiskey loving Texan you will love this place and being in the middle of Texas wine country (yes that really exists) there are plenty of other reasons to make the trip and visit the area as well.  If I had to complain it would be the price per bottle.  At almost $80 / bottle retail this is very expensive for a bourbon, but there are good reasons for that.  In it's defence it is not bad when compared to the price of many Scotch single malts in Texas and hopefully with some sustained success, time (and of course increased volumes) we will see the price point reduce. 

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