New Trail’s End Bourbon Finished In Oregon Oak

Trail's End BourbonEditor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated the Trail’s End Bourbon is finished in Oregon oak barrels. In actuality it is finished with Oregon oak staves in steel vats. We regret the error.

Portland, Oregon, where The Whiskey Wash is headquartered, helped kick off National Cocktail Week last month by hosting bartenders, mixologists, industry bigwigs and panelists from all over the country to talk, drink and share spirits.  This is arguably one of the best times to unveil a new spirit, and Clear Creek Distillery did just that.  Trail’s End Bourbon was introduced to a wave of convivial conference goers from all over America.

Trail’s End began in 2014 when Clear Creek Distillery was purchased by Hood River Distillers. Since 1985, Clear Creek has been making brandy and eau-de-vie from its family owned orchard fruit.  Also in their portfolio is an Islay style single malt – McCarthy’s, named after the founder and his family.

Whiskey is something of a passion for Hood River president and CEO Ron Dodge.  Because of a long-standing relationship between whiskey families, Ron managed to acquire a quantity of really good bourbon (which bourbon is a trade secret). When HRD acquired Clear Creek, who had already been using Oregon oak for their McCarthy’s whiskey, it marked the beginnings of a spirit as unique as the region and as all-American as apple pie.

Trail’s End Bourbon is an aged straight Kentucky bourbon of between seven and eight years which is finished in steel vats holding Oregon oak wood staves to give it a depth of character unusual to bourbon.  Oregon oak, as explained in an in-depth article earlier this summer, imparts a flavor reminiscent of French oak, but with a unique set of polyphenols that, when properly cured and aged, are unique to the Pacific Northwest.  By combining these two very distinct, very American flavors, something new was created.

At the launch, we were given a taste of the base bourbon before it was finished, alongside a dram of the Trail’s End. According to the official tasting notes”

“…the aroma of floral honeysuckle, apricot, spearmint, and orange blossom with roasted hazelnut and traces of cereal sweetness and chocolate. Next, take a sip and enjoy the smooth sweet malt and chocolate flavor bolstered by toasted hazelnut with notes of tobacco and a touch of rye. Lastly, savor the long and warm finish, oily and buttery with a lovely malt spice kick and slight char note.”

Bottled at 90 proof and available for a suggested retail of $49.95, Trail’s End is an interesting new take on traditional American bourbon and something we will look forward to doing a more formal review on soon.

About the author

Tish Lester

Tish Lester is a former restauranteur whose love of good flavors led her to the world of whiskey, where she is an avid participant, having attended nosings, tastings and master classes throughout Europe and the United States. She has recently discovered the truth that for every moment in our lives, there is a perfect whiskey pairing. Tish currently enjoys her daily dram near Portland, OR.