Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Boulder Spirits. 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 towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Boulder Spirits is based in—surprise!—Boulder, Colorado. As we have previously reported, ten years ago Alastair Brogan moved from Scotland to Colorado with a 1,000 gallon copper Forsyth still (it’s the largest in Colorado, and pretty badass, actually) and the desire to make a traditional single malt.
But you can’t move to America and not think about not making bourbon, right? But how do you do that while incorporating your Scottish roots?
You make a very barley-forward bourbon.
Although all bourbon must have a mash bill of at least 51 percent corn, the rest is up to the maker. Boulder Spirits bourbon whiskey of course has that minimum 51 percent of corn—with 44 percent of barley and 5 percent rye bringing up the rear. They find that it gives their bourbon a smooth, fruity taste. It’s aged in #3 charred oak barrels.
I wasn’t so sure, to be honest. I thought it might take a lot of that fire and sweetness I personally love about bourbon and replace it with something a little drier. But hey, dry can be good, at least in a basement. And mixing things up is even better.
Vital stats: 84 proof; about $50; aged in #3 charred virgin American oak at least three years; mash bill of 52 percent corn, 44 percent barley, and five percent rye; aged in Boulder, Colorado.
Appearance: A light tan hue, not particularly bold or shiny, but pleasant enough, I guess. Not quite cardboard but not quite the most gleaming of banisters.
Nose: Honey, Rainier cherries, a little but like old paper invitations unearthed in a dusty attic. This isn’t terrible. Not at all. It’s rather charming, actually, it smells of a dusty old antique shop, replete with treasures (assuming you have the patience to look for them).
Palate: Well, it’s certainly Scotch-ey! I don’t taste the fruitiness and the sweetness I’ve been promised. Instead, I taste…barley. This, to me, does not go down unctuous. For me, it tastes a bit thin and with a heat that isn’t super-pleasurable. It’s definitely a little cereal, a little grainy, and it’s a lot like sucking on a cinnamon Altoid.
As always, I appreciate the skill and the tools in making whiskey and that it’s super-hardcore to bring your own giant-ass still to a new country and do your thing. For reals! But this whiskey, I don’t know. It leaves me wanting more.
A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor...