Friday, December 21, 2018

Sons of Liberty Joyal's Liquors Private Selection Single Barrel Bourbon

- $45
- 90 Proof
- 1 year, 4 months
- Barrel No. 15-0159
- Rhode Island

You know what I love? Free whiskey.  You know what I love even more? Free whiskey that I otherwise can't get on my own. That's the case here. Before getting this as a Christmas gift from a good friend of mine who moved to Rhode Island not to long ago, I had never heard of Sons of Liberty Distilling, let alone tried anything they offered. At the very least, I was intrigued.

After all, this is their own distillate. That being said, it was only aged for one year and four months. This is also one of those whiskeys that was barreled in smaller barrels, presumably in an effort to recreate the effect of a standard aging in a normal sized barrel but in a significantly abbreviated time span. It's been my experience that these methods simply don't work, that there's no substitution for time and tradition, but I remained open-minded, which was slightly easier to do once I realized that this was a store select. After all, presumably someone liked this particular mini-barrel enough to want to have it bottled.

Cracking it open, the first thing I noticed, even before putting my nose to the bottle, was the sweetness. I'm guessing this is due, at least in part, to the fact that it has a mashbill of 100% Rhode Island grown corn.  In addition to having a very, almost sugary nose, it had that distinct smell of over-ripe fruit, specifically apple, that I've found to be common in young bourbons. It smelled like a mixture of sugar cookies and baked apples, but without the cinnamon (which probably would have helped).

The tasted tended to match the smell, for the most part. Interestingly, rather than sugar cookies, I was distinctly reminded of oatmeal cookies. It still had that sugary pastry quality, but also an added earthy note that reminded me of oatmeal. Perhaps that's because the sweetness tended to be more of a molasses sweetness, than a sugar sweetness, if that makes sense.

It certainly has all the hallmarks of being a young whiskey, with that over-ripe apple note. However, unlike so many others, it wasn't an offensive note. Rather, it was just an odd note that seemed to not play well with others. For instance, there was a distinct coffee note that seemed to underscore everything else. Although I couldn't place my tongue on it right away, once I did I couldn't help but notice it, and that over-ripe fruit flavor just seemed to clash with that flavor. 

Again, this wasn't an offensive combination, but even towards the end of the bottle it seemed to be about the depth of what this whiskey had to offer--an odd combination of coffee and baked, over-ripe apples. As much as I wanted it to work, and as much as I hoped to like this whiskey, it just never seemed to be . . . right. There's something to be said for the fact that the big guys in the industry have been doing it a certain way for centuries, and that there simply are no shortcuts. This proved to be no exception.

Grade: C-

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