Whiskey Review: Catskill Provisions (Rye Whiskey Finished in Honey Barrels, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Barrels, Bonfire Rye Whiskey)

, , | January 21, 2023

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by the party behind them. 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 links 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.

These little town blues are melting away, with these drams of Catskill Provisions whiskeys (also known under the Pollinator Spirits brand name). Produced and bottled in New York, this round up review has outdoor inspirations with a honey finish, a maple finish, and the smokiest rye I’ve ever put on my lips. Eye catching bottle designs include golden bees and maple leaves, hinting what to expect with the juice inside. You can find Catskill Provisions’ tasting room located near the Pennsylvania and New York border, along the Delaware river in Callicoon, NY.

The small town charm is reflected in the barn like building, painted charcoal gray. Catskill Provisions’ name spans across the entrance, and a red door welcomes you into a cozy space to try their line of spirits and full food menu.  With multiple whiskey expressions to try, they also have gin, vodka, and artisanal edibles like pancake mix, maple syrup, and chocolate honey truffles (yes, even truffles with whiskey).

Claire Marin, founder of Catskill Provision, is a woman with a fascinating journey as she made her way into the distilling world. Born in Madrid, she then moved to New York when she was 14, eventually becoming engulfed in the fast paced life of big city living. Her career also reflected that when was a successful magazine publisher for 15 years before her weekend hobby, beekeeping, took over.

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With beekeeping, Marin found it more fulfilling and strived to highlight and provide local high quality ingredients for restaurants and bars across New York. To also be able to reflect this concept in her own packaged foods and spirits, she is able to share and spread her passion with the masses. Her stunning farm house on 32 acres is not only the location of the distillery, but in the not so far future, the goal for the property is to grow rye on site for her most prized whiskey, Honey Rye Whiskey.

As we all know, the whiskey world is a male dominated industry, and in multiple interviews conducted with Marin by other media outlets, she expressed the challenges of breaking into the industry and, at times, how difficult it was to be taken seriously. But that didn’t stop her. With a huge number of craft distilleries in the US, and only a handful owned by women, Marin is proud to be one of those as a 100% women owned and self-funded distillery.

These three whiskey expressions I’m reviewing here range in different finishes and mashes. The innovation bursts from these bottles and has you realizing how the range of whiskey is truly expansive. It clearly showcases how the blend of natural sweeteners like honey and maple will not immediately imply it’s going to be sweet on the nose and palate. It was quite a surprising round up and this tasting was done in proof order along with revisiting some of the expressions over multiple days.

Catskill Provisions whiskeys review

The whiskeys of Catskill Provisions (image via Moriah Hilden/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Catskill Provisions Rye Whiskey Finished in Honey Barrels

Vital Stats: 80 Proof. 80% Rye and 20% Barley Mash Bill. No aging details. Price is $46 for 750ml bottle.

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Appearance: Lightest in color of the three as a copper honey gold color. Lots of little legs come out to play.

Nose: An incredibly airy scent floats up, not abrasive at all. Stuck my whole nose into the glass actually to be able to pick up on the aromas. Wishing for more to explore here but was able to pinpoint some simple fragrances of rye bread, Wheaties cereal and a plain scone with a touch of drizzled honey.

Palate: Identical to the nose, it was also very light on the palate. The honey aspects don’t buzz in until the end. On the forefront and main attraction, there are notes of grassy and wet forest floor. The mouthfeel is the winner with this one as it is gentle, silky, and moisturizing.

Score: 3/5

Tasting Notes: Catskill Provisions Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Barrels

Vital Stats: 90 Proof. At least 51% corn in Mash Bill. No aging details. Price is $40.99 for 750ml bottle.

Appearance: A little more tawny than the Honey Rye whiskey. Thicker legs to show off.

Nose: Can trace the maple, but it is predominantly grass clippings and toffee with pancakes soaked in maple syrup in the far distance.

Palate: Grassy on the forefront then rounds out to a maple taffy. It’s a short stay with these flavors as it then circles back to grass clippings for the finish. Found myself reaching back for it again and after exploring it awhile longer, did pick up on maple pecan pie.

Score: 3/5

Tasting Notes: Catskill Provisions Bonfire Rye Whiskey 

Vital Stats: 100 Proof. At least 51% rye in the Mash bill. No aging details. Made in small batches and limited quantity sold at tasting room.

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Appearance: Same exact color and characteristics as the maple finish whiskey.

Nose: Had to sit a very long time with this one. Off the bat, it’s a sharp face slap of shoe polish and spray paint. But like the guilty pleasures some of us have with gasoline and spray paint, there is a sweetness note that keeps you from running. Continuing to sit with it longer, there is more of the grass clippings with a tad of caramel notes.

Palate: Shoe polish and intense smoke barges in. With time, grass clippings, lighter fluid, tobacco and leather round out and finishes off this tasting journey.

Score: 1.5/5

Final Thoughts:

My expectations may have played a factor in approaching these expressions. Upon reading the labels, it was easy to assume that the honey or the maple finish would be incredibly sweet. Preparing mind, body, and mouth for it, it was quite a surprise to be hit with bitterness and curveball flavors on the nose and palate, if any at all.

After sitting a very long time with these, dissecting, exploring, and being patient, these were difficult to consume neat. I would highly recommend these in cocktails, however. I am not a bartender, but the Honey Rye could be excellent in a Bees Knees cocktail. For a festive cool weather cocktail, the maple finish could be in an Old Fashioned. And the Bonfire whiskey in a Penicillin cocktail, since the smoke in the rye was so intense and I could see other elements in the cocktail like honey, lemon, and ginger to balance it all out.

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