Whiskey Review: Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

, | January 30, 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Hotaling & Co. 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.

The back and forth of the Hirsch whiskey brand name is a bit of a head-scratcher, honestly. It was named for A.H. Hirsch, an investment banker and philanthropist who invested in the Schaefferstown Distillery, a historic landmark for American whiskey in operation for more than two centuries. After moving around a bit, back in 2020, it found a home with San Francisco-based Hotaling, which houses or imports a number of other recognized brands, from Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey to Luxardo cherries. Hotaling used to be called Anchor Distilling Company, which you might remember from the Old Potrero brand. I really liked the Old Potrero, and I’m pretty fond of Luxardo cherries, so when I saw this sample, I thought, “Why not?” Why not indeed.

So Hirsch now has a single barrel whiskey as well as one called the Horizon, which we reviewed about a year and a half ago with a solid score. But this review covers the new Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, also the brand’s first single barrel whiskey. They only made a limited batch of 57 barrels, according to BevNET.

Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is non-chill-filtered and aged in new American Oak for a minimum of six years in Bardstown, Kentucky. The mash bill is 72 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 15 percent malted barley.

Hirsch Single Barrel review

Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (image via Hotaling & Co.)

Tasting Notes: Hirsch Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Vital stats: 125 proof; aged a minimum of six years in new American Oak; mash bill of 72 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 15 percent malted barley; about $90.

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Appearance: Looks like grade A maple syrup, but backlit and tawny. Glazed yams.

Nose: Slight chlorine. Not bleachy, though. More like how your skin smells after drying in the sun after swimming in a very clean pool. Also dried bananas, and pretzel salt at the bottom of a box of thick hard sourdough pretzels.

Palate: A little more complex than the nose led me to believe. It’s very peppery and dances on the palate a bit, with slight black peppery carbonation.It doesn’t taste as high-proof as its 125 proof label would have you believe, but it will warm you on a blustery winter day, that’s for sure. This sort of straddles savory and sweet. It has some complexity like a wine that opens up throughout the course of your dinner. It’s also sweeter and less peppery on the palate as time goes on: It becomes more caramel apple, or baked cobbler.

The Takeaway
3.5

Summary

I like this a lot. I think it’s an excellent showing for a first-ever single barrel. It’s not quite smooth enough for me to grant it 4 stars, and I would give it 3.75 if I could, because of its complexity. I wonder if more time aging this would have mellowed it out the touch more it needs to get to 4 stars. I look forward to seeing what’s next…

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Carin Moonin

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...