Started in 2011 by brothers Steve and Paul Beam, Limestone Branch Distillery initially released corn and sugar cane based moonshine products. But in 2014, Luxco, a spirits conglomerate based in St. Louis, acquired a 50 percent stake in the Lebanon, Ky., distillery. The transaction saw Limestone Branch inherit the Yellowstone bourbon brand or, rather, welcome it back into the Beam family. The Beam brothers are descendants of J. Bernard Dant, who first distilled Yellowstone in 1872.
Using Luxco stocks, Limestone Branch released the first of its limited edition Yellowstone bottlings in 2015, which we found to be quite good, albeit on the pricey side. Now we’re taking a look at the Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition release, which differs a bit from the previous version. In particular, Limestone Branch finished the 2016 release in toasted wine barrels.
It differs from the 2015 version on some key points: 2015 saw a wheated bourbon blended with rye bourbons, while 2016 includes only rye bourbons. Also, the whiskeys used in the 2015 were all 12 years old. The 2016 release includes 7-year-old bourbon and 12-year-old bourbon.
Since Limestone Branch hasn’t been operating long enough to have such aged whiskey stocks, this bourbon also came from Luxco’s aged inventory. Historically, Luxco was a non-distilling producer that sourced bourbon from Kentucky distillers for its brands, so it seems likely that these same sources were used to procure the bourbon for the Yellowstone Limited Edition 2016 release.
As mentioned in the Chuck Cowdery Blog, Luxco previously sourced most of its bourbon from Heaven Hill. However, Luxco now uses more than one source, so it will remain difficult for outsiders to confirm the exact origins of the whiskeys used in the 2016 release.
Tasting Notes: Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition
Vital Stats: Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition release includes a blend of high-rye bourbons, 7 years old and 12 years old, finished in toasted wine barrels. Bottled at 101 proof, each of the approximately 7,000 bottles of the release retails for $99.99.
Appearance: This bourbon appears a medium copper-brown in a glass.
Nose: The toasted wine barrel finishing added strong notes of seasoned oak to the nose that mix with notes of caramel, vanilla, cream, and light chocolate.
Palate: At the front of the palate, it leads with the same seasoned oak notes detected on the nose. Underneath, notes of light caramel, pepper, and vanilla balance out the seasoned oak. While the sweeter notes from the front fade, the mid-palate continues with the seasoned oak along with light berry notes and a touch of chocolate and cream. Seasoned oak dominates the long finish, which also includes a touch of the berry notes from the mid-palate.
Final Thoughts and Score:
Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition bourbon is an interesting bourbon, well worth sampling at a bar before committing to a full bottle. However, the toasted wine barrel finishing adds a strong nose and palate of seasoned oak to the flavor profile that may be a polarizing characteristic among bourbon drinkers. For example, if you find the increased oak characteristics contributed by seared French oak staves of Maker’s 46 to be enjoyable, Yellowstone 2016 Limited Edition may be in your wheelhouse.
However, if you find yourself preferring something similar to the Four Roses small batch fruit and floral flavor profile, the strong seasoned oak notes may not be to your liking. With all that in mind, we’re still talking about a $100 bottle of bourbon. So, even while I liked the flavor, I wouldn’t go out of my way to pay the retail price.
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Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.