Whiskey Review: Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky

The Moylan’s whiskey brand genesis comes from Brendan Moylan and a line of brewpubs he has built up over the last 25 years in Marin County, the area on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Although a homebrewer before, Moylan’s career in producing alcoholic beverages began in earnest in 1989 when he co-founded Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, California. Marin’s website, incidentally, is the only place in his collection of businesses where this story is fully fleshed out.

Next, in 1995 he established his eponymous Moylan’s Brewery & Restaurant in Novato. It wasn’t until 2004 that he opened Petaluma-based Stillwater Spirits (which apparently started off specializing in brandy, grappa, and eau-de-vie) and Moylan’s Distilling Company. The latter seems to have been folded into the former at some point, with the Moylan’s brand only including whiskey, while Stillwater Spirits also makes various other kinds of liquor, including custom distillates.

What we know about Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky is that it’s a bourbon bottled at cask strength (121.6 proof) and aged for what appears to be four years in exclusively American white oak.

Moylan's Bourbon Whisky

image via Aaron Knapp/The Whiskey Wash

Tasting Notes: Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky

Vital stats: Bourbon, no printed age statement except that aging occurs in American white oak barrels. Bottled at cask strength of 60.8-percent alcohol by volume and sold in bland 750-milliliter bottles.

Appearance: Typical golden amber of just about average hue when poured in glass, in terms of light versus dark.

Nose: Wafts into the nose like a bright, sweet vanilla with an undercurrent of oak, which is quickly followed by a hefty kick in the nasal passages of alcohol – an abrupt reminder of the 121.6-proof spirit within the glass. The fiery smell continues to punctuate as the scent moves in citrusy direction, with orange, lemon, hay, grain and more oak.

Palate: A sip plays out in a similar fashion to the nose, but with more intensity. The whiskey flows onto the tongue like a warm but mostly nondescript vanilla. That lasts for barely a moment, though, as the spicy alcohol manifests and grows stronger in a way I imagine is like slowly sprinkling a mixture of allspice and pepper directly on one’s tongue.

While other whiskeys and bourbons might hit a spice plateau, Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky seems to just get more intense the longer it remains on the tongue. Leaving a bit of burn wherever it touches going down, swallowing leaves a moment of calm before a wave of that spiciness washes from the back of the tongue to the front with a fiery coating that is initially wince-inducing, at least for me. While I eventually became a bit accustomed as I continued to drink, it would still hit a heretofore untouched part of the mouth that would send a shiver down my spine.

The Takeaway

Moylan’s Bourbon Whisky is certainly a mouthful that’s liable to make your hairs stand on end if you drink it carelessly. It gives hints of interesting albeit conventional flavors, but the high amount of alcohol tends to overshadow any complexity. While Moylan’s seems to have an affinity for bottling at cask strength (and this is the strongest member of the brand), cutting their bourbon with a bit of water would go a long way in making this a more interesting dram – I actually recommend you put in a spot of water yourself.

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