Whiskey Review: Whistling Andy Harvest Select

It is getting easier and easier to construct an atlas of American states producing their own whiskies. Bigfork, Montana, is home to Whistling Andy, Inc. who describe themselves as “…a grain to glass distillery.” This phrase, along with “craft” and “small batch,” is growing in prominence thanks to an industry trend seeing some distilling operations taking on the responsibility of providing not just their own distilled spirits, but the raw grains from which they are eventually derived. The folks at Whistling Andy claim to source their ingredients from local farmers, capitalizing on personal relationships in lieu of automation.

In keeping with the hand-crafted theme, my bottle of Whistling Andy Harvest Select comes with a hand-written label securing the wood and cork stopper. The label indicates that my whiskey was bottled by an individual with the initials DAP, and is a selection from batch number 18. Additional details adorning the labeling includes noting that the finished product is derived from a blend of barley, wheat, corn, and rye as well as a deep-aquifer water.

No age statement is offered, nor is any comment as to the utilization or exclusion of chill filtering or artificial color. Whistling Andy Harvest Select is bottled at a standard 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).

Whistling Andy Harvest Select

Tasting Notes: Whistling Andy Harvest Select

Vital Stats: 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof), no age statement, mash bill consists of barley, wheat, corn, and rye with no proportion specifics, available around $37-$45 per 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: Honey gold in color with rather quick legs.

Nose: Quite malty with a full oak presence. The woody notes tend to amplify as the dram opens in the glass. Late, I catch notes of stewed apple and caramel with a bit of vanilla and nutmeg all under the oak.

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Palate: Soft. Very, very soft throughout. Sweet with bits of cinnamon cookie, apple crumble, a note of green oak, raisin, cream of wheat, a slight spice towards the end with cinnamon and a hint of clove. The transition into the finish is quick and soft, just as the front and mid-palate. Lingering notes of cinnamon raisin toast and a bit of toffee. There is only the most subtle of salt notes in the aftertaste as well. Overall, the finish is dry and quick.

The Takeaway

With Whistling Andy Harvest Select, I found myself returning to the bottle for multiple tastings. On the surface, this would seem like a ringing endorsement for any dram, but with this one I found it was born out of a need to gain a better understanding rather than simply wanting a second or third sip. Initially, the softness with which this whiskey is presented can cause the palate to seem muted and almost flat. With time, however, more subtle nuances tend to open up as the spirit opens both in the glass and in the bottle. It never seems to fully arrive, but that almost feels intentional. The experience is a gentle breeze in the sun rather than a gale on a beach.

So long as one goes in with that mindset, the dram performs well. With any greater expectation, the sipper might be somewhat disappointed.

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