American craft whiskies – particularly bourbons – have been cropping up everywhere in the last five years. It seems like every week I read about a previously-unknown distillery in some little town that has won an award or launched a national release of its whiskey. Luckily for these craft producers, most American whiskey can be ready to bottle in as little as a year or two. This is in contrast to scotch, which takes approximately ten years in barrel to mature enough for release. Of course, the stills can also be used to make and sell clear spirits like gin, white rum, and vodka to pay the bills. That makes the barrier to entry a lot lower for new enterprises in the US – expect to see even more of these small producers going big time in the near future.
Peach Street Distillers from Palisade, Colorado, makes a Colorado Straight Bourbon (a legal designation – the first of its kind in Colorado) aged at least 2 years in new oak. Unlike most modern brown spirits, Peach Street distills its mash ONCE before racking into oak. Presumably, this makes for a lower barrel-entry strength while retaining some extra character from the original mash. The mash is made from 60% locally-grown sweet corn, 20% rye, and 20% double-row unmalted barley. Barley catalyzes the fermentation of the other ingredients and is commonly added to corn-based whiskes, although not usually in this high proportion. Peach Street sticks to its craft sensibilities, making batches of less than 200 barrels each.
Nose: Cinnamon red hots, SPICY. A bit hot in the nose for 46%. Anise seed, spiced orange peel, caraway, baked apples.
Palate: Hot, young and excitable. Spices again. Some oak. Potently flavored. Bright – an enthusiastic newcomer.
Finish: Medium long. Taffy? Black licorice abounds. Some nice mild barrel tannins.
With Water: Adds some grass on the nose, and fresh raw corn. Makes the palate sweeter.
Overall: Well, it’s quite good. It has the air of an excited young pupppy, full of life and excitement and bounding with energy, as opposed to some older bourbons which are like plodding old hounds, wise in their years and contemplative. Unfortunately, young craft whiskey comes at a price. $63 for a 2 year-old bourbon? That’s the kind of price I might pay after touring the distillery and bringing home a souvenir bottle… but it’s unlikely to become a staple bourbon in my house with such a pricetag.
I tried this one a few months ago. Unfortunately my palate was too burned out to get much out of it other than ‘yup, that’s bourbon’.
Peach Tree uses a still with moveable plates in the column, which means they can get significantly more reflux, and thus higher ethanol concentrations, in a single run. It also looks like there’s a return pipe into the pot, which would further increase reflux. Very different from a simple pot still. Clear Creek operates that way and manages to get up to 75% alcohol in a single distillation, which is basically the same as where bourbon is pulled off of a column still.
Good info, Jordan, thanks!
Have you tried Elijah Craig 12 year old Bourbon? It’s in the $20 range and it’s VERY good. I can’t believe it’s that cheap.
Eric, I’m way behind on my bourbon tasting! I’ll get around to that one eventually. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation.
I bought a bottle of this bourbon in Montrose, Co at Cork’s. It is not a bad whiskey but it is not a great whiskey and should be in the $20.00 range. It does not even come close to Jack Daniels. I was very disappointed to say the least.