Whiskey Review: New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon

, | January 12, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y 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. 

New Liberty Distillery recently released a new spin on their Bloody Butcher Bourbon Whiskey using a sour mash. This all-Pennsylvanian release incorporates local grains and a sourdough starter for an intriguing craft dram, available in 200ml bottles.

Robert Cassell, CEO of Millstone Spirits Group, co-founded New Liberty in 2015, where he serves as the Master Distiller. Millstone Spirits and New Liberty includes almost a dozen PA-based brands such as Kinsey, FABER, and ALCO canned cocktails. American Distilling Institute, a distilling trade association, named New Liberty the 2022 Distillery of the Year after the company won numerous awards in the tasting competition.

Cassell also helped reshape liquor laws in Pennsylvania, allowing craft distilleries to sell direct to consumers, which likely helped pull many through pandemic-related closures.

The New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon was produced from three grains sourced from Pennsylvania: the corn is from Valley Mill in Doylestown, and the malted rye and malted barley are from Deer Creek Malt House in Glenn Mills. This was added to mash from a prior run of their regular Bloody Butcher mash that was left to sour in barrels.

In an unusual twist on the style, “a sourdough starter from local breadbasket High Street Philly [was] added, and left to ferment and produce wild esters.” This is an intriguing process sure to highlight the yeasty and sour notes of the starter. I expect this to pair nicely with the sweetness and savoriness of the red variety of corn from which the whiskey gets its name: Bloody Butcher.

Bloody Butcher is an heirloom variety of dent corn – a type typically used for flour, meal, or feed, instead of fresh eating. It’s a striking dark red in color, and the kernels resemble pomegranate seeds. The rich color shows through in the whiskey, which is a blush amber in the bottle. It’s not often I get to sample heirloom corn whiskeys, so let’s explore!

New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon review

New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon (image via New Liberty)

Tasting Notes: New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: Aged for three years in new charred American oak barrels, 47.5% ABV, mash bill: 70% Bloody Butcher corn, 27% malted rye, and 3% malted barley, SRP $25/ 200ml bottle.

Appearance: This is pale golden yellow with a deep red undertone.

Nose: This whiskey opens with a pop of strawberry yogurt. The sourdough character is evident alongside notes of red fruits including maraschino cherries and pink peppercorns. On the savory side, I pick up notes of baseball mitt leather, bread crusts, and lavender soap. I just adore the nose here.

Palate: This has a very mild tannic grip to the palate with rich body. There are flavors of freshly squeezed lemons, pine needles, cherry pie, and fresh bread dough. The sourness comes through on the finish as it leaves a pungent lingering note like Herbes de Provence. With water, the red fruit notes explode from the glass, with aromas of red cherries, watermelon, and roses.

Whiskey Review: New Liberty Bloody Butcher Sour Mash Straight Bourbon


This is a beautiful whiskey with delicious fruit and citrus notes. It veers far from the sugar cookie vanilla sweetness of many bourbons, instead offering up resinous, floral, and delicate citrus notes. It’s extremely refreshing and one of the most successful sour mash bourbons I’ve tasted.

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Suzanne Bayard

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...