Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Buzzard’s Roost. 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.
Buzzard’s Roost is a newcomer to the American whiskey scene, but is already picking up steam. Launched in 2019, the women owned and led whiskey producer is distributed in 10 markets and projects 400% growth between 2021 and 2022.
“Our success can be attributed to two things: the drive and passion of our team and our proprietary barrel alchemy,” Judy Hollis Jones, Buzzard Roost’s founder and CEO, said in a press release. “Our combination of art and science for the second barrel maturation results in flavors that can’t be found in any other whiskey in the world, and people find it delicious.”
Buzzard’s Roost sets themselves apart by their unique barrel-making process. They use brand new white oak barrels that are lightly charred and toasted to one of their custom toast profiles. Each barrel is one of a kind and proprietary to the company and used to add a second maturation to their sourced aged whiskey. The “barrel alchemy” takes place over the next few weeks of the second maturation as the wood from the barrels and its distinct toast or char level imparts its flavors and transforms sourced whiskey to Buzzard’s Roost’s final product.
The company recently release two new bourbons to celebrate its third anniversary: the Toasted American Oak Bourbon and Char #1 Bourbon. The names of these bourbons highlight some of what Buzzard’s Roost does that sets itself apart in terms of barrel-making.
As the name suggests, the char number is how charred the barrel is (if you want to get specific, the char number indicates the set amount of time the barrel is exposed to fire). Char #1 is the lightest level and less common among many whiskey-makers. Number three or four char is more common for American whiskey.
Toasted barrels are even lighter than the char scale and are also not frequently seen in whiskey. These barrels are more often found in the wine-making world. When used, toasted casks are thought to bring out notes like almond, coconut, and cinnamon.
One of my favorite things in whiskey is the many ways flavors can be developed, so seeing a producer playing around with convention to yield unique results is really exciting. I think Buzzard’s Roost is on to something here and I’m excited to see what they put forth next.
Tasting Notes: Buzzard’s Roost Char #1 Bourbon
Vital stats: 52.5% ABV, aged 4 years. The suggested retail price is $55.
Appearance: The liquid is a clear, rich bronze — just a hair darker than the Toasted American Oak.
Nose: Honey-sweetened vanilla and cinnamon spice are instantly recognizable on the nose. Underneath is a more subtle scent of baked apple and dark cherry.
Palate: Many of the flavors from the nose carry over to the palate. Cherry and apple are joined by apple spice and a more complex baking spice flavor joins the nose’s cinnamon. The vanilla is more subdued here than with the nose, though still present. A sweet, malty cereal note is present. The high proof gives an intense, flavorful heat up front that mellows to a warm, spiced finish.
Tasting Notes: Buzzard’s Roost Toasted American Oak
Vital stats: 52.5% ABV. The whiskey is a blend of 4 and 5-year-old bourbons. The suggested retail price is $75.
Appearance: A clear honey to light amber color.
Nose: The nose is light, floral, and tropical. Floral vanilla plays with coconut. Aromas of candied orange peel round it out.
Palate: The Toasted American Oak Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a gentle, sweet palate with vanilla and orange featuring heavily. The more candied notes are tempered by light baking space and pleasant oak tannins. The medium-length finish is delicate and floral.
Final thoughts: I enjoyed both of these whiskies quite a bit in different ways. They both have classic bourbon notes despite their unique profiles. The Char #1 brings more of the cherry and baking spices, whereas the Toasted American Oak is sweeter with a recognizable citrus element. They would both make great bourbon cocktails and both stood up well when I drank them neat.
It was fun comparing these bourbons side by side. Going back and forth between the two altered my experience of each of them. After trying the Toasted American Oak and going back to the Char #1, I got way more vanilla on the nose, almost like vanilla yogurt. When I returned to Toasted American Oak, I got malt and orange, but almost no vanilla. Overall, Buzzard’s Roost is doing some interesting things by playing with char level and flavor development. They are a quickly expanding company and I am excited to see what is coming next.
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Larissa Banitt is a writer and nurse born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She's a foodie, whisk(e)y nerd, and animal lover. You'll often find her hiking with her dog, trail-riding with her horse, or crocheting with her cats.