Ahh, where we would we be without picturesque-sounding “distilleries” making “prime aged American whiskey” from the “finest quality grains” and offering them to us with labels depicting meandering creeks in pristine mountain valleys? Of course like many bourbons Corner Creek is owned by KBD (Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) and sourced from who-knows-where. The problem I have with this is not in the opaque marketing nor the misdirection and obfuscation… it’s with the fact that if I really truly like the whiskey, I cannot be assured that the very next bottle will contain the same whiskey, or even whiskey from the same distillery! I know Laphroaig will be made at Laphroaig, Buffalo Trace will be made at Buffalo Trace, and Redbreast will be made at Midleton. What I don’t know is where Corner Creek will be made next, because I don’t know where it’s made now.
All that said, Corner Creek is actually pretty impressive. At around $27, it’s fruity, fresh, light, and without flaws. That’s more than I can say for most other bourbons under $40, and it’s purportedly 8 years old. The bottle is an odd choice – a wine bottle with a decidedly wine-like label, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was actually a bottle of Chardonnay.
Note 4/8/2016: A reader commented below that he bought a bottle of Corner Creek and found it very low-quality. Be warned that either the liquid has changed in recent batches or there is variability in the quality control.
Nose: Fruity and chalky, with peach and apricot nectars, honeysuckle and other fresh florals, and a light, airy personality. A bit like Angel’s Envy in that it eschews the heavy oaky tradition of most bourbons for a lighterweight spirit with more finesse.
Palate: Mid-weight body, with an initial syrupy rush of elderflower (like this stuff), backed up by white tea and white peaches, young coconut, and the barest touch of oak. Some vanilla rounds out the very non-corn-like malty cereal base.
Finish: On the shorter side, with mostly remnants of the palate notes. Some slight charcoal flavors and a fading tinge of cinnamon and menthol.
With Water: A drop of water seems to drown out the fruits and florals, replacing them with maybe a little cinnamon. The palate seems unchanged, as does the finish. I would not bother with water here – the bottle proof is perfect.
Overall: Exceptional for $29 bourbon, especially if you prefer a lighter style of whisky with more florals and fruits than woody sugars. Corner Creek Reserve is summer whiskey: refreshing, almost thirst-quenching in its presentation, and arrives at a well-chosen 44% ABV which delivers sparkling flavors without overwhelming the palate.