Monday, November 28, 2016

Town Branch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

VITALS:
- $35
- 80 Proof
- NAS

As someone who loves Alltech's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, it was about time that I finally got around to trying their bourbon. While good brewing may not necessarily translate to good distilling, I at least know the company puts out some good product.

The nose is very nice, sweet tobacco blending well with vanilla bean, reminding me of walking by the tobacco shop in the mall when I was a teenager.

The taste, however, is not as sweet. Actually, I found it to be a bit bitter. Not to run too far with a theme, but it had that bitter (as opposed to sweet) tobacco flavor to it. That, along with the watery texture, put me off at first.

However, as I made my way through the bottle, I came to enjoy some of the other flavors lurking in the background. Despite being a young bourbon, it nonetheless had some mild wood tones to it, which mixed nicely with a flowery/herbal flavor that I just couldn't quite put my finger on. Herbal vanilla is the best way I can describe it, like dried basil hanging in a bakery. The bitter bite at the end seemed to give way to a more wood-focused type of bite, a bit more tannic.

What makes this bourbon different from most other bourbons, however, is its mashbill.  At least based on the admittedly limited research I've done, it appears that Town Branch employs a significant amount barley in its mashbill (although the exact amount seems to be disputed across the interwebs). As a result, in addition to that herbal flavor (a quality more frequently found in single malts), I noticed a significant malty, earthy flavor to this bourbon. In fact, this is one of the more Scotch-ier bourbons I've ever had. It is readily apparent that the relatively high amount of barley used plays a crucial role in developing this bourbon's flavor profile.

This bourbon comes across as young, which it is. However, it is clearly headed in the right direction. It does not have a lot of complexity to it, but yet you can tell that with some additional aging, that complexity, that layering of different, complementary flavors is on the horizon.

I also think that this bourbon would benefit from being offered at a higher proof. Throughout the bottle it came across as watery. While that made it easy to drink, it didn't necessarily make it enjoyable to drink. I like to have something I can chew on, and I've always been in the camp that believes that higher proof lends to a more robust bourbon.

While it's not a great bourbon, it does seem to me to be on its way there.

Grade: B-

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