Review: Grand Traverse Distillery 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Grand_Traverse

This review has been conducted as part of a blind taste test to determine the best Traverse City Bourbon.

Product Details

  • Producer: Grand Traverse Distillery
  • Location: Traverse City, Michigan
  • Name: 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Classification: Hand Crafted Small Batch
  • Specific Characteristics: N/A
  • Age: No Age Statement (We were told 5 to 5.5 years at the tasting room)
  • Proof: 92
  • Michigan Minimum Shelf Price: Not distributed – $54.00 at the tasting room

Tasting Notes

Smell: The first scent we notice is a quick almost lavender-like floral aroma.  The spiciness that we smell next hints at it being a high-rye content Bourbon with scents of pepper and cinnamon showing through.  Vanilla is also present, as are lesser scents of chocolate and caramel.  It finishes with a sweet corn alcohol scent that indicates it is somewhere in the 90-100 proof range, however, is well blended and does not overpower the other scents.  We can tell this is a well-aged Bourbon somewhere in the 4 to 7 year range.

Taste: There is an immediate corn sweetness present on the tip of the tongue, but only momentarily as the flavors begin to move towards the back of the mouth.  There are quick tastes of salt and rose petals that we pick up midway back on the tongue, before the peppery spiciness is felt at the back of the tongue.  From there, there is a very dense mouth feel that makes it difficult to discern individual flavors as it begins to move back toward the front of the palate.  Subtle tastes of chocolate and orange are present.  It finishes with a long lingering smoky flavor of charred oak.

Summary 

This Bourbon is very smooth and fairly complex with a bold, dense mouth feel.  It checks all of our boxes as it moves around the tongue from sweet to spicy and back again, before finishing with a signature oak flavor.  None of this comes as a surprise given that it is a 63% corn, 29% rye, 8% malted barley mash that is distilled and aged for 5 years or more.

Recommendation and Score

Recommendation: We wholeheartedly recommend this as a good sipping Bourbon, especially given that it is distilled, aged, and bottled in our own home state (something very few brands can say).  To us, it would be a shame to dilute this one in a cocktail.  If we had any criticism, it would be the price as a similar-level Bourbon from larger, more established distilleries can be found at a lower price point.  If it were available at a lower price point, we would easily give it an extra two to three points on the overall score.  However, we have little reservation recommending this product at its current price, given that it is hand crafted and distilled four times at an up-and-coming microdistillery.

Score: 88 out of 100 overall.

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Four Roses Prices Increasing

Four Roses Collection

Following the larger trends of limited supplies and higher prices, Four Roses prices will be increasing in the state of Michigan as of February 1st, 2015.  The increases will affect Four Roses Single Barrel (+$2.68 or 6.8% to $41.98), Four Roses Single Barrel Private Selection (+$6.16 or 11.1% to $66.60), and Four Roses Small Batch (+$2.49 or 8.4% to $31.99).  All three are highly recommended Bourbons, so we suggest either picking up a bottle to try or stocking up on your favorites if you are already a fan.  With only six days before the price increases though, you’d better decide quick!

Review: Northern Latitudes Deer Camp Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Deer Camp BourbonThis review has been conducted as part of a blind taste test to determine the best Traverse City Bourbon.

Product Details

  • Producer: Northern Latitudes Distillery (sourced from MGPI)
  • Location: Lake Leelanau, Michigan
  • Name: Deer Camp Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Classification: Commercially Sourced (from MGPI)
  • Specific Characteristics: N/A
  • Age: No Age Statement (We were told 3.5 years at the distillery)
  • Proof: 86
  • Michigan Minimum Shelf Price: Not distributed – $29.99 at the distillery

Tasting Notes

Smell: An initial smell of butterscotch gives way to a mixed floral and alcohol scent. Lesser earthy scents of cinnamon and nutmeg show through after sitting for a couple of minutes.  Although the alcohol scent may lead one to believe this is a 90+ proof Bourbon, it smells smooth and well blended.  We don’t pick up on any fruit fragrances.

Taste: The taste of butterscotch on the tip of the tongue moves to the back of the tongue where we pick up a nutmeg taste.  It lingers here with a slight bitter taste, eventually moving back to the front of the mouth once more.  It finishes with a salty and spicy taste on the tip of the tongue, with a noticeable bite in the back of your mouth.  There is a lingering, dry oak taste that detracts from the overall taste.

Summary 

This Bourbon smells fairly complex, but we are left waiting for the sophisticated flavor to develop.  It moves around the mouth well, but still seems as if something is missing.  If the flavor had a little more depth as the smell indicates it might, this would be a much higher scored Bourbon.

Recommendation and Score

Recommendation: I would recommend this Bourbon as a shot or mixed into a cocktail. It is just a little lacking to be recommended as a sipping Bourbon.

Score: 82 out of 100 overall.

Review: Mission Microdistillery Civilized Bourbon Whiskey

Civilized_Bourbon

This review has been conducted as part of a blind taste test to determine the best Traverse City Bourbon.

Product Details

  • Producer: Mission Microdistillery
  • Location: Traverse City, Michigan
  • Name: Civilized Bourbon Whiskey
  • Classification: Small Batch
  • Specific Characteristics: N/A
  • Age: No Age Statement (We were told 3.5 years at the tasting room)
  • Proof: 80
  • Michigan Minimum Shelf Price: Not distributed – $34.99 at the tasting room

Tasting Notes

Smell: This Bourbon has a very strong corn smell which can’t be missed.  As the corn gives way to an alcohol scent, it leaves one with the sense that they have just smelled a straight corn “moonshine” rather than a Bourbon.  These two scents overwhelm the palate leaving room for little else, but a slight floral fragrance does eventually show through.

Taste: Somewhat shockingly, the first flavor tasted was a maple syrup-like sweetness on the tip of the tongue.  This sweetness quickly mellowed some into a strong corn flavor, and gave way to little else.  After swallowing the spirit, some earthy spiciness finally shown through.

Summary 

This Bourbon is not very complex, and really shows its youth.  It is noticeably sweet first on the tip of the tongue, then tastes like a hot corn “moonshine.”  It doesn’t dance around the tongue at all, but rather finishes mostly on the roof of the mouth.

Recommendation and Score

Recommendation: I would not recommend buying this Bourbon at this price point, as much better can be found for the same price or less.  This is disappointing to say, as it is one of two Bourbons actually distilled in Traverse City.  In fact, sadly, that may be the only reason I would buy another bottle.  If you are a fan of moonshine, you may find it more enjoyable.

Score: 71 out of 100 overall.

Four Roses Discontinuing Limited Edition Single Barrel

One of our favorite products is going the way of the dodo!  Originally reported by Fred Minnick yesterday, Four Roses is apparently ending the annual release of their Limited Edition Single Barrel offering due to a shortage of high-quality aged barrels fit for use in this product.  The good news is that they seem to be leaving the door open to release it on a more irregular schedule “for special commemorative bottling occasions only.”  The Limited Edition Small Batch offering seems to be unaffected by the news.