It doesn’t get much more craft than this: Nevada’s Frey Ranch Bourbon is grown, malted, distilled, matured, and bottled all on property, a ranch based in the Lake Tahoe/Sierra Mountains watershed.
The whiskey is made from an odd four-grain mash: 66.6% non-GMO corn, 11.4% winter cereal rye, 10% winter wheat, and 12% two-row barley. It’s aged for a minimum of four years (and is bottled as a straight bourbon) — and the decanter is impressively designed. While Frey Ranch has other spirits in its stable, at present, this is only whiskey. Let’s see how it tastes.
The nose is exotic, with lots to like. Notes of fresh-cut lumber mingle with notes of spearmint, cloves, wet saddle, and tobacco. Austere and burly, one gets the impression that a heavy-duty, frontier experience awaits, one which will have to be beaten into submission with a stick. Surprise then, as the palate proves to be amazingly gentle, even delicate at times. Yes, there’s some heat thanks to a 45% abv and some clinging, caramel corn youthfulness, but it’s quite moderated, thanks to a burst of well-balanced flavor — more mint, fresh flowers, Bit-O-Honey, and a brown butter note that lingers particularly on the finish. Here, some hints of cinnamon become evident on the back of the tongue, along with brown sugar and some nutmeg.
Lively and fun, with this straight bourbon release, Frey Ranch has clearly established itself from the start as a craft distiller to watch.
90 proof. Reviewed: Batch #1.
A- / $50 / freyranch.com