Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Boulder Spirits. 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.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, Boulder Spirits is headed up by Alistair Brogan, a retired Royal Air Force veteran with a passion for whiskey. Focusing their attention on quality vs. quantity has yielded some engaging spirits. From gin to American single malt, crafting unique flavors appears to be at the forefront of their attention.
When sitting down for a bourbon, the first things I look for are a robust body, plenty of character, and a balanced swath of flavors. There needs to be a little heat and my palate leans towards the less sugary elements. So how do these two bourbon offerings stand up to my preferences, and will I be looking for a second glass?
Tasting Notes: Boulder Spirits 5-Year-Old Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged 5 years. 100 proof. Bottled in Bond.
Appearance: Light orange amber with sheeting down the side of the glass.
Nose: Brown sugar verging on butterscotch. Oak. Bit of orange peel and a hint of fresh peach.
Palate: A gentle heat that hangs on the lips, with a buttery mouth feel and bright flavors like orange peel. The middle of the tongue gets some sharper baking spice notes of cinnamon, clove, cracked black pepper, and a bit of nutmeg. The back of the tongue picks up oak and a hint of old leather.
Summary: This comes off as a bourbon’s bourbon. There’s lots of bright character, a bit of maltiness to smooth it out and a nice amount of oak and heat. As well as it is made, though, nothing dramatically stands out. I personally look for something to draw me in and keep me engaged. It is a nice bourbon, but it lacks individuality.
Tasting Notes: Boulder Spirits 5-Year-Old Cask Strength Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged 5 years. 129.5 proof.
Appearance: Amber with distinct legs running down the side
Nose: A subtle nose that won’t burn out your nasal cavity. Orange juice comes forward. Sweet, enriched dough with a hint of baking spices follows.
Palate: This does not present as a cask strength spirit. It is subtle and understated, with lots of crisp citrus up front. The heat hits and dissipates very quickly. It has a slight bready note, like the sweet dough used to make cinnamon rolls. I didn’t pick up much oak, but cinnamon oil hits on the back of the palate. It’s a very similar flavor to red hots candy vs. a more refined cinnamon flavor. The heat that disappeared builds with each subsequent drink and hangs on a bit longer each time. The spiciness comes from white pepper notes along with a bit of star anise. The after taste has a medicinal quality, but it is not overpowering.
Summary: This is an interesting sipper in that it does not come off as I expected it to. That is more intriguing to me than the first bourbon. It opens up the conversation a lot more and engages the brain as well as the palate as you dive in.
The Takeaway: Boulder Spirits has delivered two well balanced and engaging bourbons with this batch. My palate leans towards the cask strength, but both have something to offer and show a desire to craft whiskey that appeals to many tastes without alienating any.