ABV: 46.5% Distillery: Limestone Branch Region: USA
Yesterday, The Dramble spoke to Steve Beam, Head Distiller of Limestone Branch – one of Kentucky’s newest distilleries. Today, we’ll take a look at one of the distillery’s current bottlings – Yellowstone Select. Yellowstone Bourbon was originally produced by J.B. Dant who founded the Yellowstone Distillery in the 1880’s. It was one of only a limited number of whiskey’s still produced for ‘medicinal purposes’ following the Volstead Act that came into force in 1920. Prohibition hit many distilleries hard – Yellowstone was no exception – Guy S Beam – 5th generation of the Beam family emigrated to Canada to continue distilling there. 150 years later, Guy’s descendants have refashioned and reinvented the Yellowstone brand for the 21st Century.
The modern incarnation of Yellowstone is currently a sourced bourbon containing whiskies from Kentucky aged between 4-7 years. Limestone, having only been founded in 2011 (and operating a pretty small alembic still) is still in the process of distilling and laying down liquid – it’ll be a few more years before we see an original bottling from them. This approach is not unusual. Indeed, High West also produced a range of sourced whiskies to fund the continued development of their distillery in the early days. But, respect should be paid to Limestone in this regard, as unlike many, they’re been completely transparent about their use of sourced whiskies. Where some have hidden behind ambiguous puffy marketing, Steve and his brother James have been very open about the products that currently make up their portfolio.
Yellowstone Select has been available in the US for a couple of years now (replacing Yellowstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon). It has been introduced into the UK market just in the last few weeks.
Nose: Crème brûlée, turbinado (caramel-flavoured spun raw sugar) and short-crust pastry add welcome sweet nuance to a nose that is fairly forward on both toffee and vanilla. Toasted bread and all-spice and cinnamon fruit loaf both offer some of yeastiness (no doubt the rye influence) and sit with roasted cereals. In the background - Barrett’s Fruit Salad sweets, dark cherries and a dry leafy herbalness – autumn leaves and cedar. A short period of resting brings out peanuts – a lot of peanuts – after a while they pervade the glass straddling a line between sweet and savoury. A few drops of water heightens this nuttiness, adding in some earthy yeastiness.
Taste: Less noteworthy and more straight-forward than the nose. The arrival has an oily consistency, but lacks the oomph I was expecting from the ABV – this results in a quick development. Toasted sweet golden cereals, roasted nuts (certainly peanut again), leather and tobacco support a foundation build upon toffee and vanilla. The mid/back palate delivers darker fruits – cherries and plums as well as liquorice – a touch of menthol and some underlying medicinalness. The addition of water lowers the level of sweetness and adds some breadiness and cough syrup.
Finish: Short to medium with bittersweet toffee, cinnamon and pepper and a slight dryness.
In an ever-crowded field of sourced bourbons, Yellowstone Select has some distinctiveness – particularly on the nose. The peanut characteristic that develops in the glass is genuinely fascinating and the rye elements feel both well-integrated and pronounced when they need to be. The palate and finish are less distinctive, but still completely sound, resulting in a well-made, even-tempered whiskey.
I feel that your mileage with Yellowstone will probably vary by how much you value easy-drinking over power and definition. The ABV seems well-judged to deliver an even-keeled gentle sipping bourbon – but that’s a jam-packed marketplace with some stiff competition in terms of pricing. At £50 here in the UK, Yellowstone feels either a little over-priced, or little under-powered.
But don't take our word for it..
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