We reviewed the core offerings from Richmond’s Reservoir Distillery back in 2017. Their unique mashbills (all 100% single grain locally sourced) and small barrel aging program made them unique among many craft-whiskey producers at that time. Fast forward three years and Reservoir is probably even more unique today, as many craft distilleries have traded small barrels for standard, 53-gallon options and only a handful have dabbled with single-grain mashbills. According to co-founder Dave Cuttino, the use of single grain expressions means that a Reservoir drinker has the option of vatting their own blend which offers countless possibilities. But for those whiskey drinkers looking for a more conventional flavor profile (and who don’t prefer to blend at home), Reservoir has introduced their own house blends, a bourbon and rye, under the Hunter & Scott label, coined from the co-founders’ middle names.
We recently received the Hunter & Scott bourbon for review. It’s a unique blend of all three Reservoir single grain expressions that equates to a bourbon recipe of 75% corn, 20% wheat, and 5% rye. Although crafted differently, it still adheres to the guidelines for bourbon. The Hunter & Scott line is also younger than the core Reservoir offerings and is aged in a variety of small barrels, some made from Virginia oak. Many of the first releases in 2017 used 5 gallon barrels, but our particular sample from the 2019 release was aged for one year in a 10 gallon barrel. Let’s check it out.
The nose shows its youth with earthy cereal notes, fresh grist, and cornbread batter. The small barrel-aging helps to tame that somewhat with some chocolaty barrel char, toasted cinnamon, and campfire smoke. On the palate, it drinks with surprisingly more maturity. The texture is honeyed. Youthful notes of caramel corn, malt balls, and wood shop don’t linger for long, giving way to rich baking spice, toasted nuts, candied cherry, and orange zest. There’s considerable complexity here for a bourbon this young. By the time the finish arrives, with a respectably long caramel and brown sugar crescendo, I would think I had been drinking a whiskey much, much older.
Classic Kentucky bourbon lovers may find things to nitpick with this one, and that’s why so many craft distilleries have moved to 53 gallon barrels — but Hunter & Scott proves you can get a good bourbon out of a small one.
90 proof. (Reviewed: Batch 10 of 2019)