Whiskey Review: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2022

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

I reviewed the 2019 Cowboy Bourbon from Garrison Brothers for The Whiskey Wash, and compared that year’s 137.3 proof to “a rattlesnake in your glass.” Apparently, I decided I liked rattlers. I gave it 4.5 stars out of 5, after being initially skeptical that I could get past the booziness.

Garrison Brothers claims that the high heat and wide temperature swings at its Hye, Texas, distillery squeeze more flavor in less time out of its grains than would be possible in bourbon’s Kentucky heartland. There are probably some in Kentucky and elsewhere who would dispute the claim. Regardless, one thing that is indisputable is that Garrison Brothers’ hot rickhouses evaporate water faster than ethanol – creating barrel-proof whiskies that are among the highest proof you’ll find anywhere. (Whiskey, remember, can’t go into the barrel at more than 125 proof.)

The 2022 Cowboy Bourbon comes in at a comparatively modest 134.8 proof. Modest, at least, when you compare it to that 2019 Cowboy. Most anything else you find at the local liquor store will be lower proof.

In any case, the annual Cowboy release is certainly sought after by bourbon lovers. Garrison Brothers releases it at $249 per bottle, but it routinely sells for more on the secondary markets. I found it recently for $340 at a local liquor store I like to visit.

Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2022 review

We review Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2022, clocking in this time around at a lip smacking 134.8 proof. (image via Scott Bernard Nelson/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2022

Vital Stats: Garrison Brothers doesn’t release its official mash bill, but it’s at least 51% white corn from farms in southern Texas; aged 8-9 years in 25-gallon barrels; 134.8 proof/67.4% alcohol by volume; bottle no. 6,318 reviewed here; expect to pay $250 to $400 for a 750 ml bottle.

Appearance: The Texas heat had its impact on color as well as alcohol content. This is dark whiskey, roughly the color of the classic brown crayon.

Nose: It’s sweeter than you’d expect. Red wine, fingernail polish remover, port, mesquite, orange zest, caramel, dark cherry, bran muffin.

Palate: Comes on like a soft, leather jacket. It’s velvety and spicy. It does, as you’d expect, taste a lot like the Garrison Brothers Small Batch – only stronger. With water, the Cowboy becomes sweeter and more dessert-like. Think chocolate and cherries, with maybe a hint of Dr. Pepper. The more splashes of water you add, the sweeter it gets.

Whiskey Review: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon 2022


The Cowboy comes packaged in a wooden box lined with a white satin pillow, and the bottle has a medal around its neck listing the release year. It looks like it should be expensive bourbon. The question is whether the liquid inside the bottle lives up to the hype.

On that score, I’m not sure I love the 2022 release quite as much as I did the 2019 version, but it’s close. This is good, idiosyncratic bourbon. Kentucky bourbons have a distinctiveness to them, and the Cowboy is a reminder that Texas whiskeys are developing their own flavor profile, too. This is one of the higher-end Texas releases each year.

If you have a chance to get a pour of the Cowboy, take it. Drink it neat, and after a sip or two, add a little water. Work your way up the sweetness ladder while the alcohol drops. Then, if you can afford it, pour a second one. You won’t regret it.

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Scott Bernard Nelson

Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. Scott works in higher education these days, but he previously spent 22 years as a journalist, covering 9/11 in Manhattan, crossing into Iraq with U.S. Marines and contributing to The Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of sexual...