Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
You know that feeling when a beautiful woman walks by and you can’t help but do a double take? Yeah – this bottle will put you under that spell. The American Woman Spirit Company is a newer whiskey brand based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado making their way into the industry. Embarking on the whiskey train in 2015 they released their line of whiskeys in 2020.
But easier said than done, what is fascinating about this brand is that the bottle came before the juice. Years of efforts, design and testing for quality and strength of the bottle all came into play with the help of California artist, Paul McTaggert. From their 2019 Indiegogo campaign, they beautifully summed up how in 2015 they embarked on a journey to combine their love for art, America, and quality spirits. They created an award winning straight bourbon and spent 3 years developing a unique bottle that envelops art, culture and premium bourbon [and rye]. They tasted bourbon from all over the country and studied the artistic and cultural values in sculpting a representative image of a proud and strong woman.
The people behind AWW started with John Lupori, Founder of American Women Spirits Company. His extraordinary background begins as a doctor who then turns owner of a craft whiskey brand in the small town of Steamboat Spring, where he was an oral surgeon for 20 years. Wanting to give back even more, he also worked on mission trips in Mexico to perform surgeries to correct children with facial deformities.
It was when he was traveling abroad that several local spirit bottles caught his eye, all uniquely designed and crafted, and so this was the initial spark in wanting to create and represent something similar – the American way.
With the creative support from Lupori’s daughters and son, and of course, bringing in McTaggart, was when the bottle came to life. McTaggert’s projects over his long career incorporate a blended aspect of function and esthetics. The design of the American Woman Whiskey bottle was no different. The bottle is a detailed, sculpted long haired woman, firmly standing proud and strong.
The bottle went through the ringer, having to pass a 92-point weakness test, a long and difficult task given the complex shape and contour, but it paid off when it passed and also was awarded a United States Design Patent in April, 2018.
With the bottle perfected, now what to fill it with it?
The process of creating a whiskey worthy enough to go into the American Woman bottle was the next step. Lupori reached out and worked closely with distiller Paul Dunning of Private Label Distillery. From a local web magazine, Lupori’s main goal was to make a straight bourbon – no additives – true, American bourbon. The distillate ages in four different barrels of varying size and char percentage, spending 2-3 years in each. Smaller 30 gallon, new oak barrels were used with charred levels 2, 3, 4, and 5. With the barrels aging in a temperature controlled warehouse and at an elevation of 6,000 feet, there is quite a bit of control when shaping this whiskey.
Lastly, Dunning created a blend from the four key barrels and finished the proofing with crisp Rocky Mountain water.
The whiskey I’m reviewing here from their line up, American Woman Cask Strength Straight Bourbon, is 132 proof and distilled from a mash bill of 99% corn and 1% malted barley.
Tasting Notes: American Woman Cask Strength Straight Bourbon
Vital Stats: 132 proof; aged 3 years; mash bill: 99% corn + 1% barley; around $70.
Appearance: Color represents slightly burnt, blushing corn nuts. Had to wait some time for the legs – they took their sweet time to start the show. First sign the proof may put the hurt the me.
Nose: Was expecting this to come in with guns blazing, but to my delight, soft aromas floated up instead. Rich and creamy Filipino leche flan takes over my senses and welcomes me back to childhood. What an absolute delight. Continuing on my sniffing journey, honey graham crackers smothered in soft salted butter flow in. Then digging for the finish, it is a lemon zested into a cigar box.
Palate: Now I’m questioning the proof. How can it this be so delightful and gentle on the nose and palate? Yes, my whiskey preference as of late has been 100 proof and up, but again, I’m truly shook by how mellow this juice is. On the palate you’ll find generously buttered toast and a side of simple rice pudding topped with toasted coconut flakes and sliced almonds.
Caress of sawdust and grass clippings for the finish. That delightful oil massage of a mouth feel comes into play again. Yes, the initial tastes showcases high heat as a concentrated burn wherever the liquid touches, but it finishes into an oily and silky mouthfeel.
Whiskey Review: American Woman Cask Strength Straight Bourbon
Boy Howdy. Now were talking. This knee slapping, chest warming, oil massage mouthfeel of a cask strength has me singing. Yes, the 132 proof love note is a hard one to flirt with, but if that was hidden, one would never guess its power. A burning sensation to silky mouth feel is surprisingly soft and eggs you on for more, while on the nose, it’s even more alluring. While researching, I was a little concerned that the main focus was on the bottle before the juice, but I quickly realized the whiskey was not overlooked. Not one bit.
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Moriah Hilden is Vice President of Women Who Whiskey Portland Chapter and the first American to complete the Whisky Trek in Appenzell, Switzerland. Her love for whiskey was unexpected - a life changing moment in a micro bar, in the heart of Kyoto, Japan, quickly sparked her curiosity for the...