Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
At just five years old, Big Bottom Distillery in Hillsboro, Oregon, may still be considered young in the spirits world, but they haven’t let that stop them from turning out some legitimately interesting experiments. The distillery, which takes its name from a slice of old-growth forest near Mount Hood, has become known for some unique angles on aging sourced whiskey. In December, we reviewed Big Bottom’s Bourbon Barrel Experiment, a four-whiskey exercise in the scientific method: buyers received four bottles made with the same distillate, aged for the same length of time in four different barrels.
After getting his start as an independent bottler, founder and owner Ted Pappas has started to add some house-distilled spirits to the lineup, including several gins and fruit brandies. The rest of their products are sourced, including the Warehouse Series, a line of limited-edition expressions aged in various wine and port barrels.
Big Bottom Delta Rye is a blend of two sourced whiskeys, a “spicy Indiana distilled two-year-old straight rye whiskey” (so, presumably MGP), and “a slightly sweeter Canadian distilled three-year-old rye whiskey,” according to the label. It’s unclear whether the Canadian whiskey is a rye in the American sense or the Canadian one. In any case, it’s bottled at a fairly hair-raising 111 proof.
Tasting Notes: Big Bottom Delta Rye
Appearance: Rich amber
Nose: Fruit—largely citrus and banana—mingles with spicy cinnamon and black pepper. A hot rubber-chemical note underlies the smoother spice notes.
Palate: Some darker fruit notes, like currant and blackberry, are more predominant on the palate, along with a lot of warm spice and some smoke. Unsurprisingly, the finish is quite hot, and oak predominates.
All in all, Big Bottom Delta Rye is a decent rye, though I’m not crazy about the high proof. The nose definitely has a somewhat raw character, with lots of tropical fruit and a distinct chemical edge. The palate is better-balanced, with a nice array of fruit, spice, and wood notes.
FINAL SCORE: 84/100