Kentucky-based non-distilling producer Pinhook appeared on the crowded American whiskey stage back in 2014, and since that time they’ve released annual, limited bottlings of sourced bourbon and rye reportedly from MGP. Despite the Indiana origins of their initial offerings, the distillery embraces all things Kentucky with a particular emphasis on horse racing. The distillery’s name comes from a term that describes the practice of purchasing yearling horses and selling them when they’re race-ready. Each release, or “crop,” is named after a racing thoroughbred from one of the owner’s stables.
We got our hands on the 2018 straight bourbon release, which is known as Bourbon Country. Like all of Pinhook’s releases today, the whiskey is on the younger side (less than four years old) with a mashbill of 75% corn, 20.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley. Blending and proofing have also been done on contract by Sean Josephs at the new Castle & Key Distillery (formerly the Old Taylor Distillery) in Frankfort, Kentucky. Let’s see how this horse runs!
The nose on this bourbon is sweet with plenty of chewy caramel, but it shows a lot of youth with raw corn, wet grass, and eucalyptus. With a little air, some of the younger notes give way to clove and baked pears. The palate is light but flavorful and a spicy contrast to the sweeter nose. Things come across as sharp and a little green at first with oak, cinnamon Red Hots, candy corn, and some black pepper. Creamy vanilla and candy apple intervene on the mid-palate to provide brief flashes of welcome complexity. The finish is on the shorter side, but lingering notes of orange zest and peach candy give a hopeful glimpse of things to come with more time in the barrel.