In a sea of local, small-batch, “craft” distilleries, it’s hard to even remember which ones you’ve tried, let alone which ones are good. It seems every trip to the liquor store I’m met with several new and unfamiliar labels. One Eight Distilling has been making bourbon and rye (and vodka and gin) in the US Capitol since 2015. Their flagship product District Made – formerly known as Rock Creek – is purportedly the first whiskey distilled, aged, and bottled in Washington D.C. since Prohibition.
The District Made Straight Bourbon is an unusual “four-grain” (corn, wheat, rye (malted and unmalted), and malted barley) bourbon made from regional ingredients: Corn and wheat from Lands End Farm in Chesterown, Maryland, rye from Fairview Cattle & Grain in Culpeper, Virgina, and malted barley and rye from Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, North Carolina. The bourbon is aged for 2 years in new charred oak and bottled at a robust 47.5% ABV.
I found my bottle while in D.C. for a family event, so I’m not sure how wide their distribution is yet. I’d like to say I was hunting for local gems, but in fact I just wanted something to make whiskey sours with.
Nose: Pleasant corn. Moderately sweet with cherry notes. Both nutty and oaky (just enough). Excellent balance. Bit of a nose tickle.
Palate: Syrupy body. Sweet again, with moderate to heavy tongue burn. Nutty and oaky again. Turns a bit dry, which provides a nice contrast with the prior sweetness.
Finish: Medium long. Bitter charcoal up front, the finish is much drier. Some dark cocoa and espresso.
With Water: Water turns down the sweetness a notch and adds cocoa to the aroma. Less tongue burn, but no additional notes on the palate. Water optional.
Overall: Excellent for a 2 year-old bourbon from a new distillery. Great balance, especially on the aroma. Sufficient complexity on the palate to elevate it above “entry level” craft bourbon. A surprise.
$50 is a bit high for the experience, surprise or no. I would be happier paying $40, and hope that as the company matures and scales up, its products might come down in price to a more competitive level.