Ghost Hill is a “wheated” Texas bourbon at 2 years of age using 53% Texas No. 1 corn, 36% Texas wheat, and 11% American barley all milled at nearby Barton Springs Mill. The corn and wheat are heirloom grains grown by Texas farmers. The grains are mashed, fermented, distilled, barreled, aged, and bottled on-site at the company’s ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas.
… what we have here is no-name bourbon from somewhere. Where? The back of the bottle says “Distilled in Virginia and Indiana”, so if we take this at face value it’s probably MGP bourbon with some of the distillery’s own (very young) output mixed in? There are a number of other distilleries in Virginia, so it could be sourced from any of them. The website suggests that this “less than four year old” (uhh… so two year-old, the legal minimum) straight bourbon is from a mixture of old and young casks with an average age of 4-6 years. …
This is the kind of thing I like to cover. Sourced whiskey, yes, but from an actual startup distillery with an actual still that is now producing its own actual distilled whiskey. Nelson’s Green Brier distillery in Nashville, Tennessee was a pre-prohibition powerhouse in the Tennessee Whiskey scene…
For now, we have a blend of two sourced whiskies from Virginia and Kentucky. Another twist: no MGP! The first is a 2 year-old bourbon from the O.Z. Tyler distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky with a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% rye, and 9% barley. The second is a 4 year-old bourbon from Davis Valley Distillery in Virginia with a mashbill of 66% corn, 14% rye, and a hefty 20% barley.
Smooth Ambler Old Scout not only has an awkward name, it has an awkward composition: A “union” of two sourced American whiskeys blended in “hand-selected batches” that prevents the whiskey from being labelled as Bourbon. The first whiskey is an MGP-distilled 36% rye (“high-rye”) 9 year-old bourbon. The second is a Tennessee-distilled whiskey made from a bourbon mash which is aged for 5 years in re-charred used ex-bourbon barrels.
To be fair, these are wheat-recipe bourbons made by Buffalo Trace (where modern Pappy is also produced) and matured in the same warehouses. In my W. L. Weller 12-year review, I refer to Weller bottlings as “failed Pappy” which may or may not be blogger poetic license.
Stagg Jr. is an uncut and unfiltered barrel proof Kentucky straight bourbon. My bottle is 65.95% and does not indicate a batch number. … There is also no age statement, although the prose on the back states that it has aged “nearly a decade”. The first batch released in 2013 was a vatting of 8 and 9 year-old bourbon. Other Internet sources suggest 7 years, so it’s somewhere between 7 and 9. Stagg shares its “low rye” (under 10% rye) mash bill with Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, and the eponymous Buffalo Trace bourbon. Stagg Jr. is bottled at barrel proof, which varies from batch to batch.
Elijah Craig is Kentucky straight bourbon. The Barrel Proof bottlings, made in three “small” batches per year, are aged for 12 years in new charred oak barrels and bottled uncut (without any water added) and without chill filtration. They are from the same low-rye mash bill as the cheaper 46% ABV (now NAS) small batch edition: 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley (for enzymes).
James E. Pepper, a historic brand purportedly established in 1780 (NOT in 1776) but mothballed in 1958, was distilled at several sites in Kentucky including the long-abandoned James E. Pepper distillery in Lexington, KY. In 2008 the rights to the brand were purchased by the Georgetown Trading Co., and re-launched as a line of several bourbons and three ryes using sourced whisky from various distilleries. … The bourbon bottlings were originally contracted out of the Corsair distillery in Kentucky, but are now all sourced from MGP as well.
Here we have yet another sourced bourbon, this time from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett). Johnny Drum is sold in three expressions: an entry-level Green Label ($20), a Black Label with and without an age-statement (12 years), and this Private Stock bottling that lost its 15-year age statement in a rebrand years ago. The usual vague assurances on the Internet that it “still contains some old whisky” are not even backed up by the tried-and-true “a dude at the distillery told me” type of hearsay.