Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
J.W. McCulloch created Green River whiskey in 1885. For a time, it was a widely known, heavily produced, and internationally acclaimed brand. It came to an end when a combination of a warehouse fire and prohibition forced Green River to close in 1920. One hundred years later, the Green River Distilling Company announced a revival of the brand. Following this, in 2022, we saw the first new expression of Green River whiskey in over a century.
They’re distilling on the same site where McCulloch made the old Green River whiskey. Although they are reviving the brand, the distillery itself had already been in operation for years. The distillery has been active, in some form, for the better part of the last century. It’s been opened and closed, gone through renovations, and passed between different owners. It operated mostly as a contract distiller, and still does, but has produced a few of its own bottlings.
In 2014, the Terressentia Corporation purchased the distillery and made major renovations to bring it to its current capacity. At the time, however, it wasn’t operating as Green River Distillery but as O.Z.Tyler. They put out several expressions which used the “TerrePURE” process to rapidly age whiskey with ultrasonic waves and oxidation. These O.Z.Tyler bourbons only needed to age for a year and a day, but reviewed poorly.
In 2020, the O.Z.Tyler shifted gears from futuristic to historic. They rebranded as the Green River Distilling company, with the support of J.W. McCulloch’s great-grandson. Following this, in 2022 they released a new expression of Green River bourbon. This whiskey doesn’t use TerrePURE, just a traditional barrel aging. It’s a new approach that leans into the history of the site and the brand, down to the slogan “the Whiskey Without Regrets,” which is about as close as you can legally get to the original slogan “the Whiskey Without a Headache.” I can only wish.
Also, of more recent note, Green River was acquired last year by Bardstown Bourbon in a merger of historic and modern Kentucky roots.
The Green River Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon I’m reviewing here replaces the rye in their flagship offering with wheat. It should give a very different profile, as wheated whiskeys tend to lean more to sweet flavors than rye spiciness. It will be interesting to see the full range of variety offered between these two expressions.
Tasting Notes: Green River Kentucky Straight Wheated Bourbon
Vital Stats: 45% ABV; mash bill: 70% corn, 21% wheat, and 9% malted 2 and 6-row barley; MSRP 37.99.
Appearance: Burnished Copper
Nose: It opens with a scent of wheat and mown grass, with a slightly sour quality. There’s a harshness to the smell, and when I can get past it I can pick out a faint note of cigar.
Palate: It opens light, with a slightly sour note of wheat. The sweetness of the corn is still there, and with the richer flavors of the wheat and back note of malt, it takes on the taste of sweetened, brunette coffee or maple syrup. The finish takes on a little more sourness, and feels more like sweet tea or biscotti.