Whiskey Review: Edgefield Distillery Hogshead Whiskey

Edgefield Distillery lives within the grounds of the McMenamins-owned and -revitalized Edgefield estate in Troutdale, Oregon. The space occupied by the distillery was originally a vegetable storage shed for produce grown in Edgefield’s “poor farm” earlier days. Since opening its doors in 1998, Edgefield Distillery has been producing spirits including whiskey, gin, brandy rum and several liqueurs, in addition to its eponymous beer and wine, and today also operates a distillery bar and functions as the clubhouse for Edgefield’s golf course. Talk about an adult playground.

While the craft spirits industry has seen a tremendous year-over-year boom since the late 1990s, and particularly in more recent years, comparatively speaking Edgefield Distillery has been on the scene longer than most. It was one of the first modern Portland-area craft distilleries established and has to-date remained hyper local in its distribution, while still achieving successes and recognition, including its Hogshead Whiskey being awarded Awarded “Whiskey of the Year” in 2011 by the American Distilling Institute. Clark McCool, the Distillery Manager, credits Mike and Brian McMenamin for being “at the forefront of craft brewing in Oregon”, also noting that Edgefield may be “the only property that has a working commercial brewery, winery and distillery, all located within a few hundred feet of one another and run by the same company.”

In keeping with the emphasis on aesthetics McMenamins’ venues are in part known for, the distillery features a prominently displayed “12-foot-high, gleaming copper-and-stainless-steel still in full swing” as a design throw-back and hybrid of 19th century diving suits and a Holstein coffee urn.

Edgefield Distillery Hogshead Whiskey is distilled from the same barley malt used in some McMenamins’ beer production, and is produced in small batches under the helm of Head Distiller James Whelan and Distiller Jerod Davis. Whelan has declared: “I absolutely believe that the model we created with Hogshead Whiskey is the definitive Oregon-style whiskey!”

And on that note, we taste.

Edgefield Distillery Hogshead

image via McMenamins

Tasting Notes: Edgefield Distillery Hogshead Whiskey

Appearance: Slick and clear amber.

Nose: A boozy aroma morphed from dessert wine and floral roses to an undertone of a beer-like maltiness (which isn’t terribly surprising given the mash). Notes of blackberry and stone fruit are also apparent.

Palate: A vanilla extract sweetness is nicely balanced by oak and toast, with mild pepper and orange peel notes in the finish. It is smooth and even, with an aftertaste emergence of stewed fruit.

The Takeaway

This is a simple and young-seeming whiskey that does well neat, or with the addition of one cube or a small splash of water. I would be curious to see what additional aging would do to the overall profile of Edgefield Distillery’s Hogshead Whiskey. It is an easy sipper or mixer, and given its mash bill, lack of smoke, and oak aging, it offers a bit of an intersection of Scotch, Irish whiskey and bourbon, respectively.

Though for different reasons, another whiskey in which I see hints of the various types is Green Spot (and that happens to be a personal favorite). My interest gets piqued when a whiskey touches on this variety and does it well, without becoming muddled or overdone.

3.5
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Sarah Coppola