When it comes to craft bourbon not made in Kentucky, perhaps no state is home to as many rising stars as Texas. Bone Spirits is one upstart distillery looking to make a name for itself alongside names like Ranger Creek and heavy hitter Balcones. The distillery got its start in 2010 and is located in Smithville, Texas, about an hour’s drive from Austin.
After some five years selling unaged and corn whiskey (which can be sold after less time in the barrel than straight bourbon), Bone Spirits released this straight bourbon in August 2015. All the distillery’s spirits are distilled and aged onsite. Owner Jeff Peace is as sharp a critic of sourced spirits as you’ll find anywhere, a fact reflected in the name: Bone Spirits, as in “bare bones,” a reference to the way Peace believes spirits should be made.
All the distillery’s expressions are made with local grains—or as local as possible, when it comes to rye, a cooler-climate grain that has to come all the way from Oklahoma.
This is a straight bourbon, meaning it’s aged at least two years, though the age statement doesn’t get more specific than that. It’s made with a mash of corn and rye, with no malted barley.
Tasting Notes: Bone Spirits Straight Bourbon
Vital stats: 90 proof. Corn and rye. Aged 2+ years in new charred white oak. $35/750 ml.
Appearance: Deep reddish copper.
Nose: Corn-forward at first, almost like a corn whiskey, with raw sweet corn, freshly-cut grass, and crisp cucumber. I get very little of the typical bourbon vanilla-caramel sweetness, but I do get some mild baking spice and a dash of wood.
Palate: The palate is definitely more bourbon-y than the nose, with a good dose of caramel that persists from the front to the back. The crispy raw vegetable note is here, too, but accompanied by some soft vanilla. Plenty of warm spice on the finish.
Final Thoughts and Score:
This is a rather unusual bourbon, which is something I appreciate from a craft distillery—if I was looking for vanilla and toffee, I’d buy a bottle of Eagle Rare and call it a day. There’s not a huge amount of complexity here, but a malt-free mash is something you don’t see often, and it makes for a unique expression.
It’s a bright, lively whiskey, not a hunker-down-by-the-fireplace whiskey, and I imagine it would be a killer as a highball, or on ice after a long day.