There’s no shortage of information and opinions out there about bourbon. You know that because you’re reading this review. First, it was mostly print media, then a seemingly endless stream of websites emerged, and in the last few years the topic has even gone live-action with YouTube channels, TV shows, and podcasts delivering information and opinions on all things bourbon.
One of the most popular podcasts on the topic is Bourbon Pursuit. Four years and nearly 200 episodes since they recorded their first interview, Bourbon Pursuit’s founders, Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil, have made all the right connections to offer their listeners and supporters exclusive access to dozens of private barrel picks (we joined one at Magnus in DC last fall). It probably hasn’t hurt that they count well-known spirits author and bourbon expert Fred Minnick as a regular contributor.
In late 2018, the duo took their bourbon obsession even further and started their own brand, Pursuit Spirits. To date, they’ve released nine single barrel bourbons under their Pursuit Series, all sourced from an undisclosed Tennessee distillery, bottled at cask strength, and labeled as numbered Episodes in a nod to the podcast that started it all. We recently received samples for review of Episodes 6 through 9, all of which are still available for sale through their website as of this writing. Thoughts follow.
Pursuit Spirits Straight Bourbon Whiskey Episode 6 – The nose on this 11-year-old bourbon shows minimal grain. It’s light and creamy with notes of cookie butter, caramel sauce, toasted sugar, tobacco, and apricot. The palate is equally delicate but holds a healthy amount of flavor with cinnamon candy, toffee, vanilla bean, and cocktail cherries. The finish is medium-length, but there’s enough lingering brown sugar to keep me revisiting my glass. It could benefit from a little more body, but the flavors are classic, balanced, and really enjoyable. A great everyday sipper. That is, if there were more than 159 bottles available. 104 proof. A- / $80
Pursuit Spirits Straight Bourbon Whiskey Episode 7 – This bourbon was one of the oldest of my samples at 14 years, and it also carried the highest proof. The nose is complex, with peanut brittle, cigar box, toasted marshmallow, and a faint note of peach candies. The palate is rich and chewy with a well-integrated heat and notes of caramel, some toasted coconut, and a little dark chocolate. The finish is medium-length and gently warming with more chocolate and a bright candied cherry note. 110 proof. A- / $110
Pursuit Spirits Straight Bourbon Whiskey Episode 8 – This is a 10 year old bourbon and the lowest proof of the bunch. The nose shows plenty of raw corn and barrel char. With air, I get merciful hints of butterscotch pudding, some brown sugar, and maple syrup, but it takes a little digging. The palate is light and savory with a nice heat throughout and notes of candy corn, caramel candies, pecan, and burnt orange peel. The finish is short and dominated by wood with only a bit of cinnamon and grain lingering. 103.8 proof. B- / $75
Pursuit Spirits Straight Bourbon Whiskey Episode 9 – Another 14-year-old bourbon. The nose is sweet and savory with cornbread and a little wood smoke. The palate is somewhat thin and definitely on the drier side with plenty of burly oak that somehow doesn’t overpower secondary notes of salted caramel, raw cookie dough, citrus, and marzipan. There’s a good heat here, but things seem to struggle against the barrel into a medium-length finish that sees fading baking spice and orange zest. 106.3 proof. B / $110