Whiskey Review Round Up: Whiskey Acres Artisan Series

, | February 28, 2019

Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as review samples by Whiskey Acres. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

DeKalb County Illinois is the Napa Valley of Corn, or so says Jim Walter of Whiskey Acres Distilling, at least. DeKalb County is so corn-centric they even host an annual family fair and music festival dubbed “Corn Fest.” The distillery’s vision is to create a market for terroir driven whiskey, much like that of wine. Whiskey Acres is at the forefront of this movement as it is one of only a handful of distilleries in the United States to have full control through the entirety of production, a process they have taken to calling Seed-to-Spirit. Despite choosing to stop their slogan at ‘Spirit,’ they also go one step further and do their own bottling, as well.

As Walter likes to say, “Great whiskey isn’t made, it’s grown.”

Having the extra benefit of being awarded federal grants for agricultural value-added activities, Whiskey Acres has been able to divert their own funds towards a brand new visitor’s center. The distillery began selling their products in 2015 and up ‘til now they’ve only been open to the public from March to November. Starting this winter season they are now open year round thanks to the 4,200-square-foot visitor center.

Due to their small production and commitment to patience, Whiskey Acres is pretty much only available for retail purchase in Illinois. They distribute bourbon, rye, vodka, unaged corn whiskey, and a walnut liqueur known as nocino. Whiskey Acres also produces limited releases only available for purchase at the distillery called Artisan Series. This review will examine two of these special releases and their flagship Whiskey Acres Bourbon. Their bourbon is wheated, consisting of 75% corn, 15% wheat, and 10% malted barley. The two Artisan Series varieties are what they classify as Corn Varieties X-20 and X-67.

Whiskey Acres Artisan Series

Whiskey Acres Artisan Series (image via Whiskey Acres Distilling)

Tasting Notes: Whiskey Acres Bourbon Corn Variety X-67

Vital Stats: 75% X-67 Corn, 15% Wheat, 10% malted barley. Sold only at the distillery. Aged “just shy of 2 years.”

Nose: Comes off sweet with a touch of medicinal properties. Vegetal, like an unseasoned roast squash.

Palate: Very corn forward and vegetal as the nose would lead you to believe. Finishes pleasantly with a lingering of clove. Delicious whiskey when considering how young the bourbon is.

Final Thoughts: Good whiskey. Looking forward to tasting this variety as it continues to age.

Score: 3.5/5

Tasting Notes: Bourbon Corn Variety X-20

Vital Stats: 75% X-20 Corn, 15% Wheat, 10% malted barley. Sold only at the distillery. Aged “just shy of 2 years.”

Nose: Grassy up front with notes of red fruit. The heavy corn mash bill can be detected through hay and grass.

Palate: Kind of flat, but not in negative manner. Flatness helps accentuate a bubble-gummy and viscous-sweet quality with a peppery finish. A touch of cinnamon hangs out afterward.

Final Thoughts: More complex than the X-67, but I’m not sure if I enjoy it more or not. These two young bourbons make for an interesting side-by-side.

Score: 3.5/5

Tasting Notes: Whiskey Acres Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: 75% Yellow Dent Corn, 15% Wheat, 10% malted barley. Sold only in Illinois.

Nose: Quintessential bourbon smell. Corn dominant with bready undertones.

Palate: Mostly the familiar corn sweetness associated with bourbon. Notes of Allspice throughout adds a touch of uniqueness.

Final Thoughts: My least favorite of the three. Needs a little water to bring out the flavor despite already being low abv.

Score: 2.5/5

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Forrest C. Price

Forrest is involved in several aspects of the whiskey industry. In addition to writing for The Whiskey Wash, Forrest teaches classes related to all styles of whiskey and is Brand Ambassador of the West Coast & Kentucky for Joseph Magnus Distillery. Prior to all this Forrest was Whiskey Advisor at...