Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Traverse City Whiskey Co. 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.
When Chris Fredrickson came upon his great-grandfather’s 1920s distilling patents, he got the first inklings of the idea which he and friends Jared Rapp and Moti Goldring would develop into Traverse City Whiskey Co. Initially sourcing juice from trusty MGP, they opened a microdistillery of their own in 2015 and have since produced their own whiskey which is, according to Fredrickson, still inspired by the documents he found at his family’s farm. Traverse City has been producing cherry and apple flavored whiskeys for some time, and this year they added an aged bourbon infused with “peaches and natural flavors” to the mix.
This wording sent me down something of a rabbit hole as it occurred to me that I couldn’t really say what “natural flavors” are. After doing a fair amount of reading I did not have a truly satisfying answer to my question (despite some good write ups existing on the topic). Which is fine. I’m no expert, just a guy sipping whiskey and bouncing around Google with a question. The troubling thing is that the FDA doesn’t seem to have a particularly clear idea either…
These quandaries aside, I lived in the Midwest for a few years and can confirm that Michigan peaches are seriously delicious. I could get drawn in to making parochial comparisons between produce from Michigan or the Pacific Northwest, but why bother when we can share the brief moment of weird, fictional recognition of both regions’ excellent peaches that comes from a plot-relevant Seinfeld shoutout? The relevant question to be answered is how this flavor performs in a whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Traverse City Lakeside Peach Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged 3 years, 35% ABV, $30 per bottle.
Appearance: Light straw color, very clear. Doesn’t look all that viscous, but the legs have some staying power.
Nose: Strong, obvious aroma of peach ring candies.
Palate: The whiskey itself is far more assertive on the palate than the nose would suggest. As you’d expect from a flavored whiskey, sweetness is the strongest impression, but there is also a noticeable tingle of spice and some tannins that don’t integrate all that well with the peachy sweetness that comes back around as a finish.
The fact that the aromas I experienced reminded me more of candy than a piece of fruit makes me feel more justified in my questioning about the nature of natural flavors. Both because of how weirdly specific it is and not wanting to turn off readers who may be polarized by the description, I’m somewhat reluctant to describe my experience with this glass as akin to a strong, fruity air freshener placed in a cigarette smoker’s car–but not in a bad way. I can’t emphasize that “not in a bad way” enough. This is far from the worst flavored whiskey I’ve ever tried. But, there’s something about the way the sweet peach-ring flavoring and the tannic backbone of the whiskey seem to be operating independently of one another, almost on two simultaneous tracks that don’t ever completely meet. Neither flavor is unpleasant and their combined effect isn’t either, but it also isn’t really cohesive.