Axe and the Oak Distillery in Colorado Springs, Colorado began as the passion project of five friends with a love of good whiskey. It’s unclear how many of the original crew are still involved in the whiskey-making today, but for the better part of the last decade the distillery has been turning out bourbon, rye, and moonshine. They use mostly Colorado grains in their production, but the whiskeys themselves, with the exception of the shine, have a “small” amount of Indiana-made bourbon and rye in their final blend. We received the bourbon and rye for review. Thoughts follow.
Axe and the Oak Colorado Mountain Bourbon Whiskey – This is the flagship whiskey in their lineup, made from a high rye mashbill (21%) and aged for a minimum of two years in #4 char barrels. It definitely doesn’t nose like a two-year-old bourbon, with burly barrel notes dominating. There’s ample toasted oak and woodshop notes, but not much in the way of sweetness or spice. Underneath everything, a bit of boiled corn hints to the younger Colorado-spirit in the mix. On the palate, things turn sweeter but the rye spice maintains a nice balance. The mid-palate sees a mix of spice cabinet, nutmeg and clove mostly, which rides into a generous finish accented by a bit of barrel char and milk chocolate. It’s not overly complex, but what it lacks in that department it makes up for in balance and approachability. A dangerously easy sipper. 92 proof. B+ / $48 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]
Axe and the Oak Colorado Mountain Incline Rye Whiskey – This rye is made from the “opposite” mashbill of the bourbon, presumably meaning 21% corn. It’s aged for a minimum of three years in the same #4 char barrels. The nose is definitely the sweeter, high corn Kentucky-style, but there’s still a generous grassy rye note, dusted with a little black pepper. A bit of polished wood furniture and a touch of dill round out a pretty complex aroma. The palate is soft and lightly sweet. It’s not nearly as dynamic as the nose suggests, however, with a slowly simmering rye spice and sweet caramel note that becomes a touch watery into the finish. A perfectly good cocktail rye, but this one jumps the shark on approachability, even with the slightly elevated proof. 98 proof. B / $55 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]