Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.
Plastic surgeons have made a fortune convincing Hollywood stars that scalpels can make what’s old new again. But the human eye unveils this falsehood with only a glance, and no amount of botoxed brows and bolstered bustlines ever convince anyone that such stars are, indeed, they way they were.
Thankfully bourbon is far more malleable, infinitely so, in fact, as proven by the recent relaunch of Yellowstone Bourbon. The historic brand never enjoyed premium status in the decades leading up to its 2015 relaunch, but the new version all but ensures its days as a bottom-shelf dweller are permanently behind it.
Made by blending three bourbons–a 12-year high rye, a 7-year high rye and a 7-year wheated bourbon–from liquid stocks owned by Luxco, Steve Beam, master distiller at its partner distillery, Limestone Branch, crafted a spicy spirit that tastes and costs nothing like the original. At a sturdy 105 proof, the new Yellowstone retails for $105, and if you can find one of the 6,000 bottles in this release, you probably won’t pay that little. Secondary market prices for this initial “Limited Edition” offering will vary even more.
Fittingly, Yellowstone’s relaunch party was held in Bardstown, Ky., during the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in mid-September. It was a fine soiree that crammed at least 150 adults into the former chapel of St. Joseph Prep School, now converted into an entertainment space at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. Partygoers nibbled on copious appetizers and sipped Rebel Yell (another Luxco brand) cocktails before a toast with the star of the show, Yellowstone Bourbon. It was a momentous occasion to share in a taste of the old made new.
Here are my review notes from this bourbon:
Appearance: Deep golden brown.
Nose: Oak, vanilla and a little tobacco at first, then after a rest, dried fruit, butterscotch and black pepper. Empty the glass and let it dry and aromas of butterscotch, cooked corn and smoke greet the nose from several inches away.
Palate: Oak leads the way but gently. Orange and caramel arrive at the mid-palate followed by delicious yeast and baked biscuit notes. The high-rye profile delivers a pleasant jolt of spice with bits of cocoa and smoked almond sprinkled in on the exhale. (It paired exceptionally well with an oatmeal and chocolate cookie on a later sip.)
Finish: Clean and soft despite the rye, and barely drying at the end. It is an easy drinker even at 105 proof.
I give the Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon a score of 86 points.
Steve Coomes is an award-winning journalist and book author specializing in whiskey and food. In his 30-year career, he has edited and written for national trade and consumer publications including USA Today, Southern Living, Delta Sky Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News, Pizza Today, Restaurant Business, Bourbon + and American Whiskey magazine....