In writing more of these in-depth reviews, I’ve really enjoyed researching not only the history and stories behind the brands, but also the related histories of the regions in which the spirits are made. This week is no different. We’ve reviewed the entire core range from Taconic Distillery over the past two years, including their Maple Barrel finished Bourbon. Located in the Hudson River Valley of New York, farm to table whisky production has existed in the region for over 350 years!
The history of whisky distilling in the Hudson Valley dates back to the late 17th century, when Dutch settlers established the first distillery in the region. The Hudson Valley was well-suited for whisky production due to its incredibly fertile soil. In the 18th century, the region became an important center for whisky production, with many distilleries operating along the river itself. Farmers were also known to distill their excess grain into whiskey. Hudson Valley’s proximity to large towns along the eastern seaboard of the United States allowed distilleries to grow and flourish.
However, the American Revolutionary War had a significant impact on the Hudson Valley’s whisky industry. Many of the distilleries in the region were destroyed or abandoned during the war, and the industry struggled to recover in the years that followed. Despite this, some distilleries were able to rebuild and continue operating, and its whisky industry began to recover in the early 19th century. One of the key developments that helped this revitalization along was the advent of the steamboat, which made it much easier to transport grains and other raw materials to distilleries, as well as to ship the finished products to market.
In the 20th century, the Hudson Valley’s whisky industry continued to thrive, with many distilleries operating in the region. However, the industry faced a number of challenges, including increased competition from other regions, changes in consumer preferences and, of course, a little thing called Prohibition.
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in craft whisky, and many new distilleries have opened in the Hudson Valley. Distilleries, such as Taconic, are using traditional production methods and local grains. Now sporting over 180 distilleries in the state with a fair number in Hudson Valley, the region’s whiskey history has, once again, come full circle and shows no signs of slowing down.
I’ve seen a lot of barrel finished Bourbon’s lately, but this one is new to me…stout beer! This Taconic Straight Bourbon was matured for at least five years in new American oak before being finished for six months in ex-stout beer casks. It’s bottled at 45% ABV.
Nose: Like the Maple Barrel Bourbon, the finishing cask isn’t super strong on the nose. Rather, it helps to enhance existing scents and add an extra depth of character here and there. More than anything, I’m getting a slightly funky dark chocolate vibe from the stout finish. Not sure how else to describe that. Over time, a rich coffee note comes up as well. That’s got to be the stout talking as well. I think the finishing cask is enhancing the toffee from the original maturation in new American oak. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Now I’m getting a cooling menthol.
The Bourbon is still shining through though. Don’t get me wrong. There’s still that toffee along with cinnamon and vanilla. There’s still a hint of orange, which I get off of their core range bourbon, but it’s lightly grilled this time around.
Palate: Not super sweet on the entry. Quite creamy though, with a hint of honey and a light squeeze of orange. That citrus builds during the development. A few shavings of semi-sweet baker’s chocolate give this a slightly sweet/sour/bitter flavour, although heavier on the latter two. Perhaps a touch too heavy. The spicing on the back end of the finish is cinnamon, along with a touch of nutmeg and allspice. Not finding any clove. The richness really builds as you hold this in your mouth for longer. Doing that will give you that rich coffee from the nose. Almost chocolate covered coffee beans. There’s a a small dollop of nutty rye bread as well.
Finish: More than anywhere else, this is where you taste the actual beer. Again, it’s subtle and helps to tie together all of the stout notes that were acquired through the whole experience. There’s some lingering toffee, but not a huge amount of spice. That chocolate and coffee sticks around for a long time though, along with some lingering citrus.
With water added
Quite the transformation on the nose, I must say. Very dark roast coffee and citrus forward. That funky dark chocolate has stuck around. This is very close to Terry’s dark chocolate orange now. A bit of sour cherry has joined the mix too. Honestly, I have no idea what to expect on the palate!
This isn’t as characterful as I had hoped it would be, now that I have taken a sip. I’m missing that lovely chocolate and coffee that I got without water. Towards the end, I’m getting a woodiness which, combined with the cinnamon, isn’t to my taste.
Although this fell apart on the palate with water added, up until that point, this was very characterful and unique. Taconic’s Bourbon is the perfect base for cask finishes and I have enjoyed every one I’ve tried so far. It’s this nice balance between the initial maturation and the finishing cask that makes these all so compelling.
Out of all of them, this was the one I was most hesitant about as I am not a fan of stout or beer finished whiskies in general. I never got on with that Lagavulin Offerman Guinness cask finished scotch. This is something entirely different, perhaps helping me turn the corner towards beer cask finished whiskies after all.