Woodinville Straight Bourbon is a straight bourbon that is pot distilled by Woodinville Whiskey Company in Woodinville, Washington state. The distillery, established in 2010, was acquired in 2017 by Moët Hennessy (LVMH), which might explain why it’s now popping up on store shelves. All of the grain for distillation comes locally, from the Omlin Family Farm. This particular release has a mashbill of 72% corn, 22% rye, and 6% malted barley (for enzymes), and is bottled at a reasonable 45% ABV. As I mentioned in my review of Woodinville Straight Rye, it’s not often these days that I run across a true craft (as in made at a real, small distillery) whiskey for under $40 that is excellent for sitting down and sipping.
As a Straight Bourbon that does not have an age statement on the bottle, it should legally be 4 years or older. How likely is a small craft distillery to follow Federal labeling requirements to the letter? Unknown, but anecdotal sources online say the whiskey is 5 years old, just like the rye.
On their website, Woodinville makes a point of discussing the seasoning technique for their barrel staves. Specifically, because the oak is air-dried for 18 months instead of kiln dried, the barrels are of higher quality and less likely to impart bitter tannins to the whisky. There are other benefits to the lengthy (and expensive) process of air-drying oak for staves, but once you go down the rabbit hole of barrel wood science, well… I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. Suffice it to say this is a Good Thing(TM).
Nose: Deeply oaky, with buckets of buttery, resinous, caramel-rich oak sugars. The rye notes also come through as pine sap, caraway, and clove.
Palate: Silky body. A reprise of the aroma’s array of woody sweetness, plus a new (requisite, for bourbon) cherry syrup note. Subsequent tastings reveal a marshmallow note.
Finish: Medium-long. Classic bourbon. Sweet, woody, and with a layer of cherry pie filling. These three elements linger, together, for awhile before fading with a hint of menthol.
With Water: A few drops of water add even more sweetness to the aroma, in the form of vanilla extract. The palate and finish seem unaffected.
Overall: This is quintessential, unadorned bourbon that ticks every box but does not stand out, either. There are no off-notes and everything is in the expected balance of corn sweetness and oak. Unlike the rye, this bourbon does not offer anything “extra” to justify its craft price. If you already like the rye and want to support the distillery, by all means try the bourbon. If you’re price-conscious and looking for a new bourbon, know that you can do better for less. Eagle Rare 10, for example, is better if you can find it for under $40, and there are many excellent (non-craft) bourbons in the $20 – $30 range that easily stand up to this.
I’m giving this a Recommended rating, because it’s very good bourbon for less than $40. It’s not a “Must” anything, however.