Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Laws Whiskey House. 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.
Before diving into producing whiskey, Alan Laws was a serious collector. He founded Laws Whiskey House in 2011, waiting to release his first whiskey until 2014 so as to only offer house-distilled and aged products from local grains. He was drawn to using local grains discovering some at a local brew shop. Laws notes that he “was blown away by its freshness, intense flavor, and performance during fermentation.” Laws pioneered the four-grain style of bourbon (corn, rye, wheat, and barley), which is the flagship style of the distillery. They’re notable, too, for the obsessive amounts of information provided on each release.
Laws learned from Bill Friel, who retired from his position as Master Distiller of Barton in 2003. Their house philosophy is “grain-to-glass [meaning] each batch is milled, cooked, fermented [in open-top fermenters], distilled [in a copper pot still], and aged on-site, utilizing heirloom grains from family-owned Colorado farms.” As a bottled-in-bond whiskey, this of course means that it was distilled in one season and aged for at least four years in a bonded warehouse. Independent Stave Company provides the new barrels, char #3.
You can sense the excitement and obsession Laws Whiskey House has over its use of heirloom and locally grown grains. Their website offers a detailed deep dive into the production of this spirit, with a detailed tech sheet and novella-length production notes in their announcement. Need to know the elevation and soil of the fields in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley where this Soft White Centennial spring wheat was grown? (7,500 feet and prehistoric lake bed that gave the soil a high salt content). There’s no way that this level of attention to detail can’t not be present in the whiskies themselves.
The distillery describes the Laws Whiskey House Five-Year Centennial Straight Wheat Whiskey Batch 4 as offering aromas of “mountain strawberries, orange marmalade, alpine meadow and wildflower honey,” and flavors of “Jasmine tea, sage, spruce tips and pink peppercorn.” This promises to be a mild spirit with delicate fruity and floral notes.
Vital Stats: Aged for five years in 22 new, 53 gallon American barrels, 50% ABV, mash bill: 100% Centennial Wheat, 50% raw and 50% malted, SRP $79.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This whiskey is golden orange in color.
Nose: Aromatics are mild and mellow, offering up a bakery full of raw flour, buttered scones, fresh tangerine peel, crème brulée, and blue cotton candy. This tastes like honey melted into hot oatmeal piled high with white raisins, butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Stick your nose into the glass for too long, and you’ll start drooling.
Palate: Smooth and mellow buckwheat and orange peel are as appetizing on the palate. There are also notes of sour green apples, banana bread, bread pudding, white grapes, honeycomb, saffron, daisy, sweet, sugary, caramelized sugar, and toasted sugar. Tutti-fruiti, candy necklace, stovetop popcorn, and grassy flavors give this whiskey the flavor of maturity and take time to develop on the tongue. There’s a long finish full of heady spices, freshly cut grass, hot iron, and rose petals. It ends with a palate-cleansing bitterness and a lingering note of anise, making me want to serve this as a digestif.
Whiskey Review: Laws Whiskey House Five-Year Centennial Straight Wheat Batch 4
It seems the fourth batch got the bitter finish dialed in, as both my colleagues who reviewed previous batches mentioned the bitterness as a detractor. This is smoother and maltier than other all-wheat whiskies I’ve tasted of late, giving this a sense of completeness not found in other examples. Bravo.
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Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...