Whiskey Reviews: Middle West Oloroso Wheat Whiskey, Sherry-Finished Bourbon

, , | May 10, 2022

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Middle West 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.

In October 2021, Middle West Spirits released the distillery’s Double Cask Collection featuring three dark sprits: a bourbon, a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey. This roundup review focuses on the Sherry Cask-Finished Bourbon and the Oloroso Wheat Whiskey.

Founded in 2008, with commercial production starting in 2010, Middle West Spirits produces vodka, flavor-infused vodkas, and gin, alongside whiskey offerings. Located in the Ohio River Valley just north of Columbus, Ohio, the distillery’s website and marketing material makes clear its focus on sourcing ingredients from the Midwest.

A love of whiskey usually means an interest in more than just the bottle you’re enjoying at the moment, a fact Middle West Spirits seems to understand. Collectors, serious hobbyists, and really anyone interested in the story behind a sprit will appreciate the information Middle West Spirits provides about their partnerships.

Curious about the craftsmanship and engineering that goes into distillation equipment? Middle West features Vendome Cooper & Brass Works, a fourth generation, family owned and operated company based out of Louisville, Kentucky, known for handcrafted batch and continuous distillation systems.

We all know the quality of the barrel a distillate is aged in is critical to the character and personality of the spirit that’s drawn from it years later. Well, Middle West’s barrels come from the Ohio-based Speyside Bourbon Cooperage (a subsidiary of Speyside Cooperage Ltd. in Scotland). As highlighted by Speyside, the cooperage’s approach to their craft is a combination of modern automation and quality control coupled with the artistry and attention to detail demanded by their customers.

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While story, heritage, and carefully selected partners certainly matter, in the end it all comes down to the quality and character of the spirits. The Oloroso Wheat Whiskey is distilled from a mash bill with Ohio soft red winter wheat that is first aged in lightly toasted American White Oak barrels and then transferred to Oloroso Sherry Casks. By finishing in casks that previously held Oloroso Sherry (a fortified wine produced in Spain), this wheat whiskey benefits from the imparted aromas as well as hints of extra spice and fruit sweetness.

Moving to the Sherry Cask-Finished Bourbon—arguably the stronger showing of the two reviewed here—you will find a delightfully complex sipper. After initially aging for a minimum of five years in “freshly toasted American white oak barrels,” the bourbon is finished in Solera Sherry casks for an additional 18-24 months. A review of the Solera process is too long to include in this roundup, but for those wanting to dig a little deeper, information about the process can be found here and here.

Middle West Spirits Oloroso Wheat Whiskey (image via Middle West Spirits)

Middle West Spirits Oloroso Wheat Whiskey (image via Middle West Spirits)

Tasting Notes: Middle West Oloroso Wheat Whiskey

Vital Stats: Aged five years; 100 proof (50 ABV). Mash bill: Ohio soft red winter wheat. 750ml. SRP: $99.99

Appearance: Looking down through a NEAT glass against a light background, the whiskey presents as yellow gold and slightly tawny.

Nose: After a pour, a light swirl and five beats to let it rest, I was greeted by a pleasant and not overwhelming nutty nose, with wafts of stone fruit (plum for sure) and light vanilla.

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Palate:   My initial sip was bright and the mouthfeel was a bit more spice-forward than I was expecting from the nose. I imagine the 100 proof has a little something to do with my experience. Dark chocolate was present as was a pleasant sweetness and nuttiness. The finish was long, warm and mellow.

Score:  3.5/5

Middle West Spirits Oloroso Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon (image via Middle West Spirits)

Middle West Spirits Oloroso Sherry Cask Finished Bourbon (image via Middle West Spirits)

Tasting Notes: Middle West Sherry-Finished Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: Aged six years; 97.25 proof (48.6 ABV). Mash bill: sweet yellow corn (#2 dent), Ohio soft red winter wheat, dark pumpernickel, and barley. 750ml. SRP: $99.99

Appearance: Looking down through a NEAT glass against a light background, this bourbon presented as a visually gratifying blend of deep copper, steeped black tea, and auburn.

Nose: The aromas are nice and round, with sherry and fruit. Although I didn’t catch any hints of chocolate as mentioned in the distiller’s notes.

Palate: Incredibly polite first hit on the palate that was creamy but rich. What surprised me, since I didn’t catch hints of this in the nose, was the wonderful wash of mellow pipe tobacco that immediately took me back to time with my great grandfather and the ever-present and wonderfully pleasant pipe smoke I associate with the gem of a man. This was especially prevalent to me as I exhaled and during the finish. All this coupled with cherry and plum make for a notably unique bourbon.

Score:  4/5

Final Thoughts: In a video posted on YouTube, Middle West Distillery’s co-founder and lead distiller, Ryan Lang, stated, “My advice to other makers is to just be tenacious.” Ryan is a fourth-generation distiller, and the fact he had to dig up his grandfather’s long-hidden old equipment not only makes for a fun origin story, but helps us glimpse not just the character of this relatively new distillery, but of the DNA of its founders. For those interested in trying all three of the bottles in this Double Cask Collection, you can purchase them as a three-bottle package. Cheers.

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Devon Lyon

Devon Lyon has spent the past two decades producing video content as well as writing copy and scripts for clients around the globe. But no matter how strong his natural wanderlust, it’s the Pacific Northwest he calls home. Whether it’s the growing local craft spirit scene, world-class wines, or a...