The latest from Milam & Greene Whiskey in little ole Blanco, Texas is The Castle Hill Series Batch 1. Batch 1 combines hand-selected vintage 13-year-old barrels at cask strength. The name references the historic Texas Military Institute overlooking the Capitol Building in Austin. “The Castle” as it is known is home to the Milam & Greene blending lab where a private whiskey tasting room will soon debut. Master Distiller Marlene Holmes still runs operations at the main distillery.
The Castle Hill Series Batch 1 is 108 proof (54.25% ABV) with a beautiful brassy chestnut appearance. On the nose, I instantly picked up on sandalwood and tobacco leaf. Cocoa, fig, and vanilla mingle while yeast lingers in the background. The palate is soft and creamy. It reminds me of a Lindt milk chocolate truffle. Subtle cherry, bold fig, and tobacco round out the middle. Near the finish, the whiskey is dry with wood and pepper. A bottle of this extremely limited whiskey prices at $119.99 at select retailers.
Of course, a tasting event with Heather Greene would not be complete without a little blending exercise. Greene, my idol and CEO of Milam & Greene, is known in the industry for her incredible blending talents. The Castle Hill Series showcases Greene’s skill and the art of blending. Greene said in a prepared statement, “I approach blending with express intent and purpose. I think of various barrels the way I think about spices in a cabinet. Each barrel brings its own unique character, and the end result should be balanced, flavorful, and elegant. I created this first batch of The Castle Hill Series to please whiskey drinkers looking for traditional lush notes of cherry, vanilla, and almonds juxtaposed with tannins and tobacco, and it finishes a bit drier than might be expected. I find these kinds of complexities exciting.”
We had to recreate the Milam & Greene Triple Cask Straight Bourbon using three whiskey samples. Even after winning the blending challenge at Bardstown’s World’s Top Whiskey Taster Finals, I was still insecure in my blending abilities before this virtual tasting. For the first round, I went with 50% Grain-to-Glass Straight Bourbon, 31.25% 4-year-old Straight Bourbon, and 18.75% 12-year-old Straight Bourbon. It was remarkably close, but my second round was even closer with 50% G2G, 26% 4yo, and 24% 12yo.
I am still playing around with trying to get an exact match. However, it feels great knowing that blending whiskey could be a legitimate career option for me down the road.
Courtney Kristjana is a leading whiskey taster in the country. She left a career in Gerontology after an article on Heather Greene inspired her to follow her passion for whiskey. She is studying to become a Master of Scotch and someday hopes she is nominated for the Keepers of the...