Review: Ammunition Wines, Bourbon, and Rye

Windsor, California-based Daylight Wine & Spirits is a rare operation that includes both winemaking and distillation operations. The two are interlinked: Its recent whiskeys are sourced products (both from MGP) that are finished in Daylight’s own wine barrels. Everything is bottled under the brand name of Ammunition (with some spin-off labels also in the mix). Today we look at three wines and two whiskeys from the operation. Let’s pop some corks!

2016 Ammunition “The Equalizer” Red Blend – A kooky blend of 50% syrah, 24% merlot, 11% cabernet franc, 9% petite sirah, and 6% mourvedre. No bones about it, this Sonoma County-born wine is a brash, aggressive experience that requires a certain frame of mind to even approach with any level of sanity. Thick with unctuous notes of raspberry jam, brambly blackberry, raisin, and Mexican chocolate, the sweetness is off the charts on this wine, finishing with a gummy, almost saccharine experience that winds up closer to Port than table wine. At the same time, there’s ample tannin in the blend, which could temper things, if only just a bit. Treat this like an aggressive zinfandel and you might find yourself in manageable territory. C- / $25

2016 Ammunition Cabernet Sauvignon Founder’s Reserve Russian River Valley – This is classic California cab, rich with currants, plums, and some spiced chocolate notes, all in a swirl of woody vanilla and gentle tannin. A bright cherry note pops as the wine develops on the palate and finish, brightening up the body in what could otherwise have become a bit overbearing with darker fruit elements. Fans of rich and opulent cabs will be perfectly at home here.  A- / $60

2017 Ammunition Badgerhound Zinfandel Sonoma County – There’s a cartoon dog on the label of this wine, which should tell you something to start things off. This is a somewhat strange expression of zin, surprisingly beefy and savory, tinged with notes of cherry juice and red raisin notes — and touched with surprisingly pungent herbal elements — think pizza oregano — on the finish. While the dog on the label looks like he’s ready for a nice sauerbraten, serving this alongside a greasy slice of pepperoni pizza is probably closer to what was in mind for this bottling — a job which here is completed with moderate success. B- / $18

Ammunition Straight Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels – This is a blend of 2, 3 and 4 year old MGP four-grain bourbon (60% corn, 25% wheat, 10% rye, 5% malted barley), finished for at least 3 months in wine barrels which previously held several vintages of Ammunition Cabernet Sauvignon. This has the brash graininess of young bourbon, heavy with barrel char on the nose plus ample notes of cloves and well-roasted peanuts. Hints of dill are evident here, but they’re lighthanded. The palate offers no real surprises, though it kicks off with a beefy note before pushing into sweeter territory — some butterscotch and vanilla — plus a touch of herbaceousness that lingers into the tannin-heavy finish. A bit hot, yet brooding with earthiness on the back end. It’s really young stuff, but it does show promise. 90 proof. B+ / $30 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Ammunition Straight Rye Finished in Pinot Noir Barrels – This is a blend of 2, 3 and 4 year old MGP rye (95% rye, 5% barley), finished for at least 3 months in wine barrels which previously held several vintages of Ammunition Pinot Noir. Clearly winey on the nose, there’s ample notes of blackberry and baking spice, mingling with a savory layer of barrel char and roast beef. The palate presents a much milder experience than expected, first hitting with some of that baking spice and a cherry note, then folding in pepper, cloves, and more of that barrel char. It’s clearly young whiskey but the wine barrel does a good job at masking that to some degree — though it often comes across as a bit doctored instead of complementary. The finish is a case in point, its spice notes and butterscotch elements blended strangely with a hunk of beefy steak. 90 proof. B- / $30

Ammunition Straight Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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