Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Firestone-Robertson. 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.
Boasting a commitment to capturing the “Terroir of Texas,” Master Distiller of TX Whiskey in Fort Worth, Texas, Rob Arnold, has made it his mission to understand the science of flavor compounds in whiskey. Through research for his book The Terroir of Whiskey, Arnold has discovered the impact that location and local ingredients have on the differing tastes of whiskey from distillery to distillery.
Arnold has hand selected Cognac casks for his final expression as Master Distiller, producing TX Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks. Highlights of his time at TX Whiskey include, “isolating our proprietary wild yeast strain, reviving forgotten heirloom and new varieties of corn, helping to bring rye & barley cultivation back to Texas, developing novel toast profiles used in our barrel aging program, and developing a collaboration with Sawyer Farms with the goal of becoming a single-farm distillery for our straight bourbon expressions.”
TX Whiskey is distilled at Whiskey Ranch, a 112-acre artisanal distillery experience boasting the largest whiskey distillery west of the Mississippi. TX Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks is the third expression in its Barrel Finish Series. Previous releases include TX Straight Bourbon Tawny Port Finish and Sherry Finish.
Cognac, an aged spirit distilled from grapes, is produced solely in the Cognac region of France. Cognac casks can be aged for a long time and are said to add a subtle fruity element to whiskey, though I didn’t get much of that in my tasting.
There is a level of competition in distilleries these days, with “innovation” and “experimentation” at the heart of many craft distilleries and small-batch releases. TX Whiskey has created something decidedly tasty in their TX Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks, but I do believe it is getting more difficult every day to actually define what it means to be innovative. What Master Distiller Rob Arnold has brought to TX Whiskey is a real sense of discovery, tapping into the natural resources of Texas while considering a scientific approach to what it really takes to create unique flavor compounds.
TX Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks (image via TX Whiskey)
Tasting Notes: TX Straight Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks
Vital Stats: Bottled September 2021. 50.8% ABV (101.6 Proof). Suggested retail price of $64.99. Two-year-old Texas Straight Bourbon finished over 17 months.
Appearance: Dark, filtered honey.
Nose: Cherry and cola present strongly, along with faint honey.
Palate: The whiskey is full-bodied and at the front of the palate I got some bitter coffee notes, that mellowed into a fruity cola finish. Very faint notes of caramel come through, and the whiskey packs a bunch without leaving a burn.
Wildly drinkable and pleasant to look at, that’s what I’d say about this whiskey. The bottle design is carefully thought out with many nods to Texas, and the whiskey itself is well-crafted. The Cognac cask elements are a bit difficult to pick out, but that doesn’t detract from all the good this expression has to offer.
Jerry Sampson is a freelance writer, editor and screenwriter. Her creative work is ever improved by her love of whiskey and craft cocktails. She enjoys taking cool fall days to explore the great distilleries around Portland to get a closer look at the inner workings of her favorite spirits.