Changing careers is something that a lot of us do at some point or another. Sometimes you accept a promotion within your organization or you seek a similar (hopefully better paying) job at another firm. Sometimes you go back to school to learn up and get a better trade. Other times, you go off and pursue something completely different. With Taconic Distillery’s founding family, the latter is definitely true although the situation is not as unique as you might think.
In a previous life Paul and Carol Ann Coughlin were part of the Wall Street scene in finance and marketing. Having spent over two decades in their respective fields, they felt it was time for a much needed change. They already owned land in Dutchess County (thus the name of this expression), New York and wanted to make that the heart of their new venture. Paul was already an avid bourbon fan, so moving into the field of whiskey seemed like a logical choice. And so Taconic was born.
Taconic’s main focus is bourbon and rye along with a smattering of white spirits. We have already reviewed their wildly popular Double Barrel Maple Bourbon, Founder’s Rye and Barrel Strength Rye. We’ll cover the Dutchess Bourbon in this review and the Barrel Strength Bourbon next week. If you are lucky enough to visit their distillery, you will be able to snag some of their limited releases, which are finished in Cognac, Cabernet or Madeira casks. Not to mention their barrel aged maple syrup!
Sitting in the glass today, we have the Taconic Dutchess Private Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey made from a mashbill of 70% corn, 25% rye and 5% malted barley. This was aged for at least four years in new, charred American oak and bottled at 45%.
Nose: This is a pretty light nose, but one thing I get straight away is a decent amount of orange. This might be off putting to some bourbon drinkers, but I love it. Baker’s, a favourite of mine, is another bourbon with plenty of citrus behind it. I’m not getting a strong cherry note in here. It’s just lurking in the background. As I let this sit in the glass, it’s becoming just a tiny bit floral and a little bit of peach is revealing itself. There’s also some cinnamon, toffee and a bit of nutmeg in there as well. I’m not getting that much oak or vanilla. That sour orange note is getting in the way, I think. It will be interesting to see what water does in that regard.
Palate: Like the nose, the entry is pretty light and a bit thin. There’s a little bit of toasted peanut to go along with some light caramel and the flesh of a navel orange. The transition into the development is very slow and gentle. For a high rye bourbon, I’m expecting a little bit of a spicy kick in the development, but it’s not there. I got the same experience with their ryes. However, there are plenty of baking spices present. I mostly get cinnamon and clove. The nuttiness, orange and oak gets turned up a little as I smack my lips. The caramel on the entry is more sponge toffee on the development.
Finish: The oak, baking spices and orange slowly fade away. The toasted peanut on the development is now becoming dark peanut brittle, but it’s pretty faint. The orange is preventing a drying end to the experience.
With water added…
Definitely more cinnamon on the nose as well as peanut brittle. The oak is a lot more present as well. Water has definitely increased the boldness here. The palate is much the same in terms of notes, but the volume is turned up significantly. Still not much in the way of heat, but that’s alright by me. One significant difference with water is the addition of cocoa powder. It’s slightly bitter, but helps to add some much needed richness. This is a much more mouth experience as well. By the time the finish kicks in, that cocoa note evolves into a rich hot chocolate. The oak is also a little more pronounced.
This is definitely much improved with water. The flavors are much bolder that way and help to give the whisky a deeper, richer mouthfeel. Part of me wishes that there was a little more heat in the development to remind me I’m drinking 90 proof whisky, but I do appreciate the strong baking spice notes I get on the development despite this.
I’m very interested how the Barrel Proof version compares to this. Will it be spicier? Will it be more of the same? Tune in next week!