MGP continues to expand its in-house portfolio with the addition of yet another brand, Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey. While we were fans of MGP’s rye releases, we were less enthusiastic about their initial efforts at an entry-level and premium bourbon. What then to make of this somewhat unusual blended bourbon?
For starters, this is nothing like Seagrams 7 Crown, a famous, yet unfortunate, blended whiskey whose meager whiskey components (only %25) are made on contract by MGP for spirits giant Diageo. The bulk of that product (75%) is grain neutral spirit (raw alcohol), whereas this whiskey is comprised mostly of MGP’s high rye bourbons and no grain alcohol, additives, or colors. Rounding out the Eight & Sand blend are other whiskeys produced at MGP, including their corn whiskey and light whiskey, all of which are at least four years old. The name is a bit of an oddball, as well, inspired by American railroad history and highlighting MGP’s support for railroad museums and historic preservation. To wish a train crew “Eight & Sand” is essentially like saying “smooth sailing,” according to their press release, which is how MGP hopes you’ll feel about this whiskey.
The nose on Eight & Sand is bigger and richer than I’d expected for a blend. In fact, it’s pretty close to a classic bourbon for the proof with a gentle spice and notes of brown butter, dried oak, cinnamon sugar, and candy corn. The palate is on the lighter side, but it doesn’t skimp on flavor, again showcasing a lot of classic bourbon notes, from ground cinnamon to creamy, caramel candies. There’s enough oak to keep me salivating without crossing that drying threshold, and while there’s plenty of sweetness here, the wood and a healthy amount of baking spice serve to reign in the more sugary elements. The finish is generous with a soft, lingering heat, caramel sauce, and a subtle cherry Jolly Rancher note.
Unusual name aside, this blended bourbon is meant to highlight the merits of several MGP whiskeys all at once, and also perhaps to serve as a more approachable counterpoint to the wood-forward George Remus bourbon. They appear to have succeeded on both fronts.