$50 US Retail
There are no young off notes, and the palate and finish have a nice range of complexity
The nose lacks the depth and refinement of the palate and finish.
Craft distilleries tend to be a bit of a controversial point in the whiskey world. Some “craft” brands are little more than non-distilling producers who source their whiskey from large distillers, while other traditional start up distilleries end up selling young whiskey at a premium price. So, for the whiskey lover that loves local businesses, can you find good spirits from these local craft brands? It really depends on what you like and what your expectations are. True, you may not like the white whiskey or the unaged rum they are selling, but if you look hard enough, you will definitely be able to find some solid drams.
That brings us to Bluebird Distilling, a local-to-this-writer business in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Bluebird opened in the summer of 2015 after years of research into the beer and spirits industries. For the owner, the original goal was to open a craft brewery, but a change in the local distilling laws altered the course.
Bluebird does make several different spirits, but they make only one bourbon, their Four Grain Bourbon. They like to be considered a “true grain-to-glass” distillery, with much of the grain coming from Pennsylvania. All of their spirits are distilled on site using a custom made 1000 liter copper hybrid-pot still. So, now that I’ve made it sound all cool, what is it like?
- Distilled, Aged and Bottled at Bluebird Distilling in Phoenixville, PA
- Mash bill: unknown proportions of corn, heirloom rye, red winter wheat and malted barley
- Cask type: 30 gallon new American oak
- Age: Less than 4 years
- ABV: 46%
- Tasting from Batch 20, Bottle 111
Nose: It starts with some rye spice and butterscotch. Interestingly, there is absolutely no ethanol or heat, nor any typical “young bourbon” fake corn syrup notes. There is also a musty oak note, which oddly enough seems to provide balance to the rye. A touch of mint appears after a rest in the glass.
Palate: The mouthfeel is oily and dry as rye dominates again with an oak backbone. There is more butterscotch and some cinnamon lingering, as the palate warms up eventually.
Finish:Smoky rye, oak and butterscotch all just explode together. It has a really fantastic warming end that lingers for a long while.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. If you have tried any of your local craft distilleries, you may have had some bad experiences. This four grain was a pleasant surprise for me. It tastes more like a rye whiskey, so if that is not your preference, you may want to look elsewhere. This is a little young, but using smaller barrels allows for more spirit-wood interaction and helps make up for the difference. With most craft distillers, you have to ask yourself if $50 is worth paying for a young bourbon. If this was a 6-year old bottle, the price would not be a problem, but this is definitely not a 6-year old bourbon. Price aside, this bourbon is a win for a young, local distillery. It is a very good option if you are looking to try something from a smaller craft distillery.
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: Truly Exceptional
All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.
[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Bluebird 4 Grain Bourbon – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]