Whiskey Review: Whistling Andy Bourbon

By Will Meek / October 23, 2016
Whistling Andy Bourbon

image via Will Meek

Bigfork, Montana, is a small town out of your dreams – if your dreams involve fishing, hiking, and whiskey. Home to less than 5,000 residents, two hours from Canada, bordered to the west by Flathead Lake, and virtually surrounded by the vast Flathead National Forest.

Bigfork is also home to Whistling Andy, a craft distillery named after owner Brian Anderson’s father, who got the “whistling” nickname during his time in the military.

Like a lot of craft distilleries, they are serious about the grain-to-glass process, and their grains are sourced from two local family farms. One of the farms even recently won the Montana Agricultural Leader award from Montana State University. Anderson drives the truck himself to and from the farms, filling up straight from the grain elevators.

Once the grain is delivered, they do everything in-house (mill, mash, ferment, distill and age). They have also been rapidly expanding, getting an additional 3500 square feet of rickspace a couple years back to house their increased production.

Whistling Andy makes two whiskeys, and I had the good fortune to get this bottle of Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon to review. The grain bill is 60% corn, and a mix of barley, rye, and wheat. Anderson likes the lower percentage of corn to make sure the final product is not too sweet. It is aged three to four years depending on when the spirit is produced, going a little longer for those that need to survive an extra ferocious winter at their elevation and latitude.

Tasting Notes: Whistling Andy Bourbon

Vital Stats: 80 proof, aged 3-4 years, single barrel, $45 for 750ml.

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Appearance: Muddy orange, legs are thin and medium paced. Pretty nice color for three years time.

Nose: The aroma is mostly graham cracker, with hints of apples, oatmeal, and apricot. No burn on the nose, and each time I poured it there seemed to be other things in there. The aroma is definitely the strongest aspect of this bourbon.

Palate: Neat, it is strikingly pleasant in the mouth. It the consistency of a long-steeped rooibos tea: full, balanced, and inoffensive. It sits easily and supports being rolled around without regret. The flavors don’t exactly follow the nose. I’m primarily getting bright, pink grapefruit pith and vanilla bean, anchored by raw wood.

The finish is clean and quick, with a little spice and snap, which makes me think that rye in the mash is of a higher percentage. Heat is very in-check for the whole experience, making it dangerously quaffable – which makes sense at 80 proof.

With a couple drops of water, the aroma opens up a toffee note that is very interesting, and the apricot disappears. A splash of water turns the nose into green apple, and the flavor into raw wood and a cola sweetness. Neat is the recommended experience.

Final Thoughts:

I drank this across two weeks for review, and there were a couple standout feelings. First, Whistling Andy Straight Bourbon is a very drinkable bourbon. It was easy to crush multiple pours, making it a nice all-around whiskey and everyday sipper. Second is that given the age, it was not overly complex. That made my interest sputter, especially on the palate, but I could smell it all day and get new notes each time.

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The bottle could easily go empty quickly, and a bit more age would really make this a standout. Beyond that, I couldn’t stop dreaming of making the trek out to this tiny town on the lake to taste some spirits straight from the source.



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