Danh Tran (@whiskytran) has been so generous to me with all of the samples that he’s shared over the last couple of years. On his last trip to the US, he was very excited to share this one with me. This Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon is an annual release for the distillery and is made up of the founder’s favourite barrels. This release consisted of 118 casks, all at least 8 years old and uses their wheated mashbill, which consists of 74% white Texas-grown corn, 15% red wheat, and 11% malted barley. It’s bottled at a cask strength of 67.4% ABV.
Nose: The Texas heat has really turbocharged the aging process on this one. I get so many rich barrel notes right away. Tons of sponge toffee and vanilla and a good dose of cinnamon. I got quite a bit of cooked down cherry compote when I first poured this into my glass. It has evolved into this mix of freshly sliced sour cherries and cherry bubblegum. Ripe peaches are starting to come up, which is something I love in American whiskies. Combined with the heavily charred barrel, I’m getting some BBQ corn.
Palate: This is a chewy whisky. No doubt about that. At such a high proof, I was expecting this to come in really hot, yet that isn’t the case here. It’s shockingly easy to drink. Lovely creamy milk chocolate with rich vanilla and a touch of tart cherries on the entry. The red wheat on the development is unmistakable. This is a grain that is very popular in Alberta craft whiskies. Even after eight years, it still has a grainy bite to it, but combined with the barrel, also gives me my favourite Crunchie bar vibe, richer in the toffee than the chocolate. The tang from the sour cherries and peaches hits mid-palate before the spices from the barrel take over. This is heavy on the cinnamon and light on the nutmeg and clove. It helps to dry the experience out as this heads for the finish line.
Finish: The baking spices fade surprisingly quickly. With no no rye present, this isn’t unexpected. What remains is that tart/sour fruitiness, toffee and a hint of cocoa powder. Even without the spices, this lasts a long time.
This is only my second experience with Texas bourbon and my first experience with Garrison Brothers. I really appreciate the decision to include wheat rather than rye in the mash. I fear that rye would have made this too harsh to drink. Although this is out of the price range of many consumers, anyone who finds high proof whisky intimidating, but are given the opportunity to try some, this one might change your mind!