Whiskey Review: Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2021)

, | October 30, 2021

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Limestone Branch Distillery. 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 towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Being tied to a well-known family business can be a blessing or a curse. Stephen and Paul Beam, brothers and seventh-generation distillers from the famous Beam family, have leaned into the positive side of the equation.

Together, they started Limestone Branch Distillery in 2011. Four years later, they bought the rights to the Yellowstone brand name and began issuing new releases under the label. (The Beams claim lineage to J. Bernard Dant, who first distilled Yellowstone whiskey in 1872.)

The juice the Beams have been making is still aging in Kentucky warehouses. But thanks to access to aged whiskey from Luxco, their partner with the Yellowstone brand, they began issuing Limited Edition bourbon in 2015 that from the beginning showed an appreciation for the fine art of blending.

The 2016 edition, for instance, featured a blend of 7- and 12-year-old high-rye bourbons finished in toasted wine barrels. The 2017 version incorporated 4-, 7- and 12-year-old bourbons finished in double-seasoned charred wine casks. Last year’s was a 7-year bourbon finished in French Armagnac barrels.

The 2021 Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon features 7-year and 15-year whiskies – the younger bourbon finished in casks that previously held an intense Italian red wine known as Amarone della Valpolicella. It’s issued at 101 proof in an embossed bottle that would look good on virtually any bar.

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More bars will be likely to have it, too: 7,500 cases were released this year, half again more than in 2020.

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (image via Debbie Nelson)

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (image via Debbie Nelson)

Tasting Notes: Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2021)

Vital stats: Blend of 7-year-old and 15-year-old Kentucky bourbons, including 7-year-old barrels finished in Amarone wine casks; 101 proof/50.5% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $100 per 750 ml bottle. Lexington, Kentucky.

Appearance: Dark amber, tending toward orange. Impressive legs on the side of a Glencairn.

Nose: There’s something floral going on, making me think of lavender and potpourri. That’s almost certainly the Amarone influence, which also comes through with a whiff of fresh apricot.

Palate: There’s a spiciness in the mouth that you don’t pick up on the nose. On my first taste, a surprising cracked-pepper influence was more pronounced than the less-surprising honey and vanilla. Give this bourbon a few minutes and maybe a splash of water, though, and it changes. In the second wave, I found plum, pipe smoke and soft, supple leather. It mellowed out nicely, in other words. Finally – and interestingly – I discovered a medium-long finish of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.

The Takeaway
4

Summary

The Beam brothers have managed to take a bottom-shelf brand and turn it into a top-shelf brand in a relatively short amount of time. And it’s not just hype. This is a nice bourbon for $100 that can hold its own next to far more expensive whiskies. The interesting thing is that the Beams have made this transformation primarily as blenders, working with whiskies distilled by others. It will be fun to see what their own whiskies taste like as they start emerging in the next few years.

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User Review
3.76 (17 votes)

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Scott Bernard Nelson

Scott Bernard Nelson is a writer, actor and whiskey reviewer in Portland, Ore. When he's not working, you can often find him fly fishing or rock climbing in the Pacific Northwest.