Pine Barrens begins as beer, specifically Old Howling Bastard, made by Blue Point Brewing in nearby Patchogue. After distillation it is aged for about a year in small newly-charred barrels.
This moderately amber spirit is clearly young from the first whiff. On the nose there’s lots of grain influence, along with a distinct and sharp woodiness that almost comes across as astringent.
The body follows suit. Heavily yet freshly oaked in the way that only small-barrel whiskeys tend to be, the first impression is one of youth and simplicity. But Pine Barrens reveals additional charms as you sip it. While it starts with a tough and woody body, it fades to reveal some interesting notes beneath: Banana, vanilla, sweet cream, and some spicy pepper. While the overall impression is rather vegetal and tannic, there’s enough promise here to merit a look-see. Would love to see this whiskey aged in bigger barrels… for considerably longer.
95 proof. Reviewed: Batch #7.