Review: Grand Traverse Distillery 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey


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.


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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