Whiskey Review: Whiskey Hollow Texas Gold Single Malt Bourbon Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This review was updated with additional information about the mash bill and aging of this whiskey.

Let’s get something out of the way: no, the title of this review doesn’t contain a typo. This whiskey really is labeled “single malt bourbon.” As you might guess based on that seemingly oxymoronic nomenclature, this whiskey is one of the weirder things I’ve ever been asked to review—or, not the whiskey itself, exactly, but its whole deal.

I’ll zoom out a little. Whiskey Hollow, the purveyor of this mysterious juice, more or less resembles other small distilleries: they sell a range of unaged spirits and a couple of briefly barrel-aged expressions. They have a tasting room and offer distillery tours on the town square in tiny Valley View, Texas (population 757 as of the 2010 census). But get your hands on a bottle of Texas Gold, and it quickly becomes clear that this place is a little different.

For starters, as already noted, there’s the confusing “single malt bourbon” labeling (to be fair, there’s no legal definition of “single malt” in the United States, although “malt whisky” must be made with at least 51% malt). According to the owner of the distillery, Les Beasley, “single malt bourbon” refers to a bourbon made with a single malted barley as one of the grains in the mash bill. Then there’s the flat-out bizarre back label, which reads less like marketing copy than something a tipsy whiskey enthusiast might recite to a cab driver on the ride home:

“I believe if you want a great whiskey it has to be multiple distilled slowly in a large handmade copper pot and run through 2 charred American, white oak barrels (thumper kegs) then make deep cuts. Think about it… You age great Whiskey in charred white oak barrels. What happens if you gently steam boil deep hearts cut whiskey up to 16 hours in charred White oak barrels (thumper kegs) during distillation?…. Magic. Our rare double thumper still Bourbon is full flavored and very smooth.”

Style aside, thumper kegs are common in rum and moonshining circles, but uncommon among whiskey distillers. Basically, an extra vessel is filled with low wines or mash, and the pipe exiting the still goes into that vessel. The vapor causes it to boil, and that vapor goes either into a condenser or a second thumper, which then gets directed to the condenser. Essentially, this is a way of raising the ABV of a whole run so it doesn’t have to be re-distilled. Whether using two charred oak thumpers makes whiskey “very smooth” remains to be seen.

Tasting Notes: Whiskey Hollow Texas Gold Single Malt Bourbon Whiskey

Vital stats: This bourbon is made from 58% corn, 12% wheat, and two-row malt. It’s aged “a minimum of six months,” although the owner tells us the whiskey inside is up to three years old, and bottled at 110 proof. It retails for an eye-popping $150.

Color: Quite a dark, reddish brown—darker than I’d expect for a young whiskey.

Nose: Opens with lots of warm spice, then strong butterscotch and caramel. It gets more and more buttery as it sits in the glass.

Palate: More of the same, heavy on confectionary flavors like butterscotch and caramel. I get a little banana, as well. Pleasantly tannic in the mouth, but hot on the finish, with plenty of oak.

The Takeaway

I have to be honest here—I was really hoping for this whiskey to be amazing. How great would it be if the brains behind those confused ramblings turned out to be whiskey geniuses? Unfortunately, it tastes pretty much like you'd expect a younger wheated bourbon to taste. The strong confectionary flavors give it a raw taste, and besides the oaky finish, there's no depth here whatsoever. Alas, the thumper keg isn't the secret to whiskey nirvana.

2.5
User Rating 1.25 (4 votes)
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About the author

Katelyn Best

Katelyn is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. She's a regular contributor to the Whiskey Wash with an affinity for the unique and weird side of whiskey.