We're excited to launch a new segment on our website called “Tasting Note Tuesdays.” It's going to be exactly what it sounds like - tasting notes we publish on Tuesdays! This will be in addition to our standard full reviews and weekly content, but we've found our backlog of bourbons we'd like to review has become so extensive we don't think we'll ever catch up using our standard review process for all of them. To that end, the tasting notes will be much more brief, and won't represent the same in-depth evaluation we provide in our reviews. We hope you enjoy this segment, and we hope that getting our thoughts out more timely and for a greater number of bourbons will serve readers well.
Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon (2nd edition, 2015 release)
Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Garrison Brothers
Distillery: Garrison Brothers
Age: 4 Years
Mashbill: 100% #1 Panhandle Yellow Dent Corn
Garrison Brothers is an artisan distillery located in Hye, Texas, a small community about 60 miles west of Austin. Beginning production in 2008, it’s one of the longest running distilleries in the American “craft” whiskey movement. Garrison Brothers only makes one thing, bourbon, and they seem to take pride in doing it differently. With the intent of making no two vintages that are alike, Garrison Brothers talks about altering different parts of the bourbon making process, including varying mashbill, barrel entry proof, and even headspace within the barrel upon initial fill (filling a barrel only half full, for example). Combined with the intense heat cycles found in Texas, bourbons aging in their barn (currently estimated to be more than 5,000 barrels), the end result turns out to be a flavor profile entirely different from anything else out there.
Cowboy Bourbon is Garrison Brothers’ highest priced and rarest offering. This particular vintage is from 2015, and is from bottle 3,419 out of 5,200. It’s incredibly dark in color, a trait Garrison Brothers says may be the only consistent one among their vintages. The flavor profile is quite different, and quite delicious. Citrus and vanilla greet the nose, along with a dollop of fresh oak. The sip is as rich as it is complex, with heavy caramel, clove, molasses, and brown sugar against intense seasoned oak. It has a thick, oily texture, and drinks less than its 135 proof allowing me to roll it around in my mouth with less burn than expected. It finishes nicely with molasses and brown sugar combined with a hint of fresh oak.
Because Garrison Brothers’ production and distribution are limited, I have yet to see their products on shelves in my area. Combined with what’s also a fairly high price tag on their bourbons, I just haven’t taken the leap to seek out and get to know the brand. Now that I’ve finally tried one, I’m really glad I have. The 2015 vintage Cowboy Bourbon is fantastic, and goes to show that even a relatively young craft bourbon can be just as good as anything else out there. Garrison Brothers is on my radar, and I’m excited to try more of what they have to offer. -Nick 12/2017
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Michael Iurato. We thank him for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
2bar Straight Bourbon
Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: 2bar Spirits
Distillery: 2bar Spirits
2bar has recently upgraded their bourbon line to be classified as Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Unlike their past releases, this means that it has been aged for a minimum of 2 years in new charred oak barrels. Up until recently, 2bar had avoided the use of 53 gallon barrels and instead ages in smaller barrels. While no information is readily available, it’s believed past barrels used were of the 15 gallon variety. They have recently begun filling full size barrels for future releases.
The nose consists of classic scents of vanilla, corn, and oak mix with sweet raisins and allspice. Oak and sweet vanilla dominate the palate with hints of baked pie crust and grain peeking out from underneath. The finish is dry and oaky with a dash of heat up front. It ends on a lingering note of dry tannic oak.
Much like how 2bar has been increasing the age of their bourbon, their flavor profile continues to improves over time too. The extra time in the smaller barrel size adds a heavy dose of oak which skews the flavor of the finish negatively compared to the younger version I’ve tried in the past. Overall though, its flavor profile offers a major upgrade comparatively. While still not on many people’s radar, 2bar has come a long way over the years, and now with the recent upgrade to Straight Bourbon, it’s worth seeking out a bottle. -Jordan 11/2017
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of 2bar. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
Nick, Eric & jordan
Breaking Bourbon Team