Whisky Review: Pendleton Whisky - The Whiskey Wash

Whisky Review: Pendleton Whisky


Pendleton’s one liter bottle is called a Mustang

Named after the Pendleton Round-Up, Oregon’s largest rodeo, Pendleton Whisky is ubiquitous in the parts of the state where mustaches aren’t ironic. From its red bucking bronco logo to its folksy tagline (“Let’er Buck”), Pendleton has positioned itself as synonymous with all things cowboy. It’s the official whisky of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the presenting sponsor of the All American Pro Rodeo Series. They’ve even renamed their bottle sizes to jive with their Wild West branding: a 375 ml bottle is called a Pony, while the standard 750 is called a Bronco. Want a half-gallon? You’re in the market for a Stallion.

Made by Hood River Distillers, Oregon’s top-selling spirits producer (and recent purchaser of Clear Creek Distillers and their beloved McCarthy’s American Single Malt), Pendleton isn’t actually distilled in Oregon, but rather a blended Canadian whisky aged in oak barrels and proofed with water from Mt. Hood. It recently launched a line extension known as Pendleton Midnight, which matures a portion of the whisky in former brandy barrels.

Pendleton Whisky is widely distributed, and a 750 ml bottle costs around $20.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Bright copper and very translucent with thin, widely spaced legs.

Nose: Extremely sweet and dominated by caramel and burnt marshmallow. There’s a sharp, bottom-shelf vodka element to the aroma, like toasted wood floating in solvent. More interesting notes poke through, like a faint hint of rye bread crust, but the aroma is overpowered by artificial notes suggesting a mixture of pennies and Werther’s Originals.

Palate: Also very sweet and driven by notes of caramel, confectionery, and low calorie sweetener.  The caramel is pretty artificial tasting, much more reminiscent of a Yankee Candle than burnt sugar. The mid palate offers a bit of rye spice but without much richness or dimension, and quickly peters out into a short, slightly warming finish.


Sweet, flat, and thin-bodied, Pendleton Whisky tastes a lot like vodka mixed with grocery store caramel sauce. A few tantalizing rye notes hint at something interesting, but overall this spirit reminds me of nothing more than diet cream soda. You might like Pendleton if you find most whiskies too rough or too dry, but I didn’t find much to enjoy about it.




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