Whiskey Review: Burnside Bourbon

Burnside Bourbon

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

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.

I have to admit a certain penchant for Burnside Bourbon. One of the first local Portland, Oregon spirits I was truly struck by, it has held a special place in my heart since I first tasted it a few years ago.

Beyond my own fondness for the spirit, there are myriad undeniable traits that make the sourced Burnside a more than worthwhile local sip. Hailing from Portland’s own Eastside Distilling, home to Portland Potato Vodka and a smattering of kitschy spirits ranging from Cherry Bomb Whiskey to holiday Eggnog “Advocaat” Liqueur, Burnside certainly has its work cut out for it standing out in that crowd.

Relatively light in color in the glass, the four year old Burnside Bourbon packs a corn-forward punch. Charcoal and ethanol jump out on the nose, with saccharine notes just barely rounding out without being overwhelming.

The corn-led sweetness of the nose follows through into the first sip, accompanied by spicy vanilla, and light caramel notes. Dark cherry is also subtly present on the nose. Incredibly reminiscent of honeyed cornbread, the 70% corn mash bill shines through every step of experiencing Burnside.

Although not entirely syrupy like some more unfortunate bourbons, this whiskey proves densely sweet on the palate. Offset by a baby kick of spice on the finish, Burnside goes down smooth. A drying, sugared rose petal aftertaste rounds out the dram.

Although recommended for mixing by Eastside themselves, Burnside Bourbon surely holds up on its own. However, when the occasion arises, it is a welcome addition to an Old Fashioned, a Sazerac, or a perfect summertime Mint Julep.

A price point of around $28 for a 96 proof, 750ml bottle sets it on a truly reasonable plain. By no means the fanciest, most prestigious bourbon around, it remains a standby and a great friend to lean on. Considering the well-balanced nature of this spirit alongside its reasonable price and ease of mixability, I give Burnside Bourbon a score of 92.

About the author

Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the Hebridean Isles. I am currently working in the industry getting up-close and personal with whisk(e)y, spirits, and cocktails every day.

  • Great review! Based on your description and the extremely reasonable price, this seems like a solid “everyday bourbon.” I’m not really familiar with Eastside Distilling though – do they produce their own stuff? Or is it sourced from another producer?

  • Savannah Weinstock

    @Josh @ A Dram Good Drink:disqus, Eastside Distilling makes many of its own products so far as I can tell. However, in 2013 there was some community doubt on the origins of Burnside Bourbon specifically. The following article by the Portland Tribune describes the kerfuffle in greater detail: http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/150618-distillers-spirited-debate%20. As to the current status of the whiskey used to blend Burnside Bourbon, there is not a clear answer out there. Whether Eastside act as distillers or blenders in the formation of Burnside remains unclear, but the whiskey stands up nonetheless!

  • Whiskeydistiller

    Unfortunately it is uncommon knowledge that Eastside Distilling does not actually distill any of their products. They will happily tell you that they do, which has sparked a growing movement among the alcohol producers in the area to boycott their products. I would happily drink Burnside Bourbon again if they would stop misleading customers. It is a nice sourced whiskey, but the company has many ethical issues to overcome before they will have me as a customer again.

    • Anthony Helton

      This is not uncommon with Craft Distillers of bourbon – in the first few years. Tour the Rick house – look at the barrel tops. It’s all transparent.

  • Anthony Helton

    Great review. I live in Kentucky and have a nice collection of rare KY bourbons. My mother in law – who lives in Oregon – just gave me two bottles Burnside. I am interested in learning more about why they chose the name Burnside – the history. I think it is related to General Burnside. I can’t find anything. I’ve tried calling Eastside Distillery – no one answers the phone. Any info would be greatly appreciated. My email is blastncast1962@gmail.com