Whiskey Review: Palmetto Whiskey

Whiskey Review: Palmetto Whiskey

Though Anderson, South Carolina’s Palmetto Distillery is only a few years old,  owners and founders Trey and Bryan Boggs want to ground their business in the state’s history. And although South Carolina isn’t a state with a well-known whiskey tradition, the brothers’ recently-released Palmetto Whiskey bears a nod to history right on the bottle: the gold-embossed emblem of a palm tree above two crossed logs, the same label once used by the South Carolina Dispensary.

Between 1893 and 1907, the South Carolina Dispensary was a state-owned monopoly on liquor sales, and it represents the first and last time that form of regulation was used in the United States. It was the result of early prohibitionist efforts and acted as a compromise, tightly regulating alcohol without banning it outright. Though liquor sales were a major cash cow for the state, prohibitionists ultimately won out, and the state government ruled that individual counties could choose whether to allow alcohol sales. All that remains of the Dispensary are the iconic glass and ceramic vessels booze was sold in, some of which now fetch upwards of $20,000 on the collector market.

Like many young distilleries, Palmetto has spent the last few years selling unaged spirits—in their case, so-called “moonshine” in a handful of fruit flavors. In fact, the company was initially called Palmetto Moonshine, only rebranding itself as Palmetto Distillery earlier this summer. Palmetto Whiskey, released hot on the heels of the rebranding, is their first aged spirit.

The Review

Palmetto WhiskeyAccording to the distillery, the mash bill is based on grains that would have been available in South Carolina during the South Carolina Dispensary period. It’s 21% rye, with the remainder consisting of a mix of corn, malted barley, and wheat. The resulting whiskey is aged less than 2 years in French oak, and bottled at 89.3 proof.

Appearance: In the glass, this whiskey is a deep russet with light, closely spaced legs.

Nose: The nose is sweet, almost confectionery; honey mingles with syrupy caramel, brown sugar, and a hint of banana. A buttery note brings to mind dulce de leche or pralines.

Palate: Fairly tannic on the palate, and like the nose, mostly sweet, with notes of honey and caramel detectable.

Finish: Brown sugar and caramel are still present, but a strong maple note predominates. The finish is smooth but short.

The nose of this whiskey is dominated by sweetness, and its aroma is palpably sticky and heavy; I gave my roommate a whiff, and he observed, without knowing where it’s made, that it smells “like the South distilled and bottled.” Though it’s not overly sweet on the palate, as one might expect based on its nose, the array of candy-like flavors it presents don’t interest me hugely. This is a perfectly drinkable whiskey, but it’s very much a one-note experience. I give it a score of 82.

If you’re interested in exploring the latest chapter in South Carolina’s spirits industry, Palmetto Whiskey is available at liquor stores in much of the country, as well as online, for about $30 for a 750 ml bottle.

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.