Bourbon By Nino Marchetti / June 17, 2019 The Western Spirits Beverage Company is one of those weird niche players in the American whiskey market that you don’t normally know a lot about, but whose sourced expressions you’ve likely had at one point or another. Common to their bourbon portfolio, for example, are the likes of the Calumet Farm, Bird Dog and Lexington bourbon labels. Another more recent entry in this family is the Sam Houston Bourbon Whiskey offering, which may actually be of a better quality at face value versus the other ones.Sam Houston Bourbon Whiskey, according to those behind it, is a 12 year old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey that was curated for Western Spirits by Steve Nally, John Hargrove and the team at Bardstown Bourbon Company. Bardstown, as we’ve touched upon in the past, is an interesting emerging operation in Kentucky, showcased by a state of the art distillery and visitor experience. Part of the Bardstown operation involves working with new and existing brands to develop whiskey for these non-distilling producers most typically, making use of new whiskey Bardstown has distilled for them as well as procuring older stocks of aging spirit from others to babysit until it is time to bottle them.Sam Houston Bourbon Whiskey (image via Western Spirits)As described by Western with regards to this release, which is actually the second go around under the Sam Houston label, it was “crafted from a rare, premium bourbon reserve. The bourbon was aged for a minimum of 12 years in new American White Oak barrels, charred at #4 level and was held to the highest scrutiny for quality, flavor and complexity. Each barrel was hand-chosen, and the current release has been crafted in extremely small batches, using only 3 barrels at a time. Each bottle is individually hand-labeled with specific aging notes and numbered.”Plans for this release call for the Sam Houston bourbon, priced around $100 per 750 ml bottle and bottled at 98 proof, to be made available in Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, New York, Colorado, Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia. Western, in a rather rare move compared to some other NDPs, has actually highly detailed information related to each state’s release on the website for this bourbon. In general it has a mash bill that’s 74% corn, 18% rye and 8% malted barley. You’ll find some detailed official tasting notes at the end of this story as well for this deep amber-copper colored whiskey for your consideration. It should be noted also this whiskey is said to be “offered in tribute to the life of Sam Houston. He was well-respected as one of the great political men of his day, serving as a congressman, the president of the Republic of Texas and the governor of two states – Texas and Tennessee.”Nose: Soft notes of caramel and molasses present first. Lighter notes of dried fruits and banana bread resound but quickly give way to a smoky, woody sensation. Apple cherry and heavy grains can be sensed throughout.Taste: An incredible balance between gentle impressions of mocha toffee and buttered corn instantly meld into sweet hints of dried apple, black cherry and molasses. Subtle waves of spicy rye flavor reside but are diluted by a sweeter essence to round out this approachable well-aged bourbon.Finish: A long, oaky finish lingers on the palate with flavors of brown sugar, orange peel and a hint of clove. Gentle warming is present but never overpowers making this bourbon finish smoothly.