Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Pendleton may be categorized as a Canadian whisky, but it’s a celebration of the American West and the American cowboy in particular. Named and branded to honor Oregon’s now century-spanning Pendleton Roundup, Pendleton Whisky was initially launched by Hood River Distillers in 2003. The Pendleton brand was acquired by Becle in 2018 and is now distributed by US subsidiary Proximo Spirits. The whisky is distilled and blended in Canada, but still bottled by Hood River Distillers, at which point the brand’s defining touch –water sourced from the “Mt. Hood glacial melt”– is applied.
The 2022 Champion’s Edition, released in particular celebration of the Roundup, is for sale only in the brand’s home state of Oregon. Given that the bottle is touted as a limited, regional release, I figured there must be some particular, distinctive wrinkle in the whisky’s production but the “key facts” about the Champion’s Edition are generally true (enough) of all their bottles, save for that “each bottle prominently features the rodeo’s famous bucking horse symbol and ‘Let’er Buck’ slogan.”
Tasting Notes: Pendleton Champion’s Edition 2022
Vital Stats: 40% ABV. Canadian whisky aged in American oak, cut with “glacier-fed” water from Oregon. Available in Oregon only.
Appearance: Light brass color.
Nose: Sweet and woody, almost grassy or vegetal.
Palate: Warm spicy flan and oaky vanilla with a light to moderate burn.
Whisky Review: Pendleton Champion's Edition 2022
Right down the middle, accessible flavors that don’t put on airs and won’t talk down to you. If any of your formative drinking years took place in Oregon, you probably know what you’re getting with Pendleton – it’s fine, it’s widely available, but it’s not exactly remarkable. This bottling is a little hot for the low proof, but not upsettingly so, and would probably work best in cocktails that can accommodate the custard-y profile.
Pendleton Champion’s Edition would probably go well in a whisky-cola, but I’m guessing the folks at Pendleton wouldn’t mind knowing that after I finished my tasting glass I had boilermakers on my mind, which sent me foraging in the back of my fridge for a Montucky Cold Snack to go with the next pour.
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Jacob Wirt’s past lives as a cook and cultural studies researcher continue to inform his appreciation of fermented grain beverages- not (only) because these professions might drive one to drink, but because they offer a reminder of the knowledge, work, and history that makes every glass possible. His first love...