Whiskey Review: Mississippi River Distilling Company’s Cody Road Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Mississippi River Distilling Company’s Cody Road Bourbon

Mississippi River Distilling is a family owned and operated distillery in “the heartland” – located in Le Claire, Iowa right on the Mississippi River (which creates the state divide between Iowa and Illinois). By all descriptions its emphasis is on all things local, down to the grain used coming from within 25 miles of the distillery – and all things craft, down to the handwriting appearing on each bottle.

Ryan and Garret Burchett are brothers, co-owners of Mississippi River Distilling and also both distillers. They also wear other hats as part of their integral involvement in the distillery. Both pursued different career paths for years – Ryan a television meteorologist and Garret a transportation planner – before coming together in the name of spirits and opening Mississippi River Distilling in 2010.

The Burchett brothers seem to have built their distillery with care for purity and authenticity, and also play to the modern craft whiskey interest and culture, with offerings like “whiskey school”, “adopting” a barrel and creating custom whiskey for patrons. They even encourage others around the country to dive into the craft distilling business (a couple was inspired to open Fox River Distilling Co. after a tour of Mississippi River Distilling and encouragement from the Burchetts).

The distillery’s clear spirits – all including the name “River” with an air of a steamboat-throwback theme – are a vodka, a gin and an “artisan spirit.” Aside from a series of specialty spirits, Mississippi River Distilling’s other mainstay is its Cody Road whiskey series: a bourbon, a single barrel bourbon, a rye and a single barrel rye.

Buffalo Bill” (né William Frederick Cody), was born in Le Claire and his life’s journey inspired the Cody Road line. Cody Road Bourbon was initially launched in 2011 in a limited run, and has since been produced in several subsequent limited batches. In fact, The Whiskey Wash reviewed a previous edition in 2016. It has received accolades including earning a silver medal at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Cody Road Bourbon, like the other Cody Road whiskeys, is made without chill filtering or added color.

Tasting Notes: Mississippi River Distilling Company’s Cody Road Bourbon

Vital Stats: The mash bill is 70% corn from Le Claire, Iowa; 20% wheat from Reynolds, Illinois; and 10% barley from Davenport, Iowa. According to the distillery, the whiskey is hand-filled into “the 30-gallon, newly charred Midwestern white oak barrel at 110 proof after two years of aging. Eight barrels are blended for each bottling at 90 proof.” Price point hovers around $34.

Appearance: Gentle amber with brassy hues.

Nose: Light and vanilla-forward, like sugar cookies or shortbread. Beneath, there are grassy notes that slightly cut the sweetness.

Palate: Vanilla and fruity sweetness comes forth above all, but are mellower than the nose suggested. There is a spicy edge, which imparts more a feel of acidity than a distinct flavor, as well as balance. It’s expectedly grain-forward, and nicely warm going down with a medium finish.

The Takeaway

While this is not a complex whiskey – which can potentially be attributed to its young age – it’s simple and good. Its youth isn’t a detractor, and compared to some other young whiskeys, Cody Road Bourbon really holds its own and has something to offer. It’d be easy to reach for when you’re in the mood for a bit of bourbon, but don’t have a specific inkling in mind. It’s an interesting pair with bitters-forward cocktails, and holds its own with a rock or two.

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Sarah Coppola