For the latest releases from Distillery 291 Colorado Whiskey, the baton has been passed on to me from Drew and Christopher as Drinkhacker revisits the latest batch of HR (High Rye) Colorado Bourbon Whiskey and takes a first look at the Bad Guy Colorado Bourbon Whiskey and limited release of E (Experimental) Whiskey. Let’s see what impressions they leave this time.
Distillery 291 Bad Guy Colorado Bourbon – This is a wheated four-grain bourbon made with corn, malted wheat, malted rye, and beech smoked barley mash. The nose starts with a rich and thick aroma of Port and stewed prunes followed by an intriguing undertone of brand new car seat leather or leather polish that actually seems to work against the sweet notes (to some it could be acetone). On the palate the tables turn, greeting you first with a bitter bite of dry leather and oak that clings to the tongue and never seems to let up. With subsequent sips, candied oranges and raspberry coulis drive some tartness and spice to the hint of sweetness. Rye and smoky barley are prominent, giving off prickliness in the spice and a peaty Scotch character. There is literally a little bit of every type of whiskey featured in this bourbon – sweet Irish, peaty Scotch, gritty rye, grainy bourbon. What is conspicuous in their absence are caramel and vanilla notes, which makes this the most non-bourbon bourbon I’ve tasted to date. If the name Bad Guy is in reference to irreverence regarding expectations, then they nailed it. Expect the unexpected here. After getting my bearings, there’s much to appreciate about its eccentricity. 115.6 proof. A- / $108
Distillery 291 High Rye Colorado Bourbon Batch 25 (2022) – Drew first showcased Batch 4 of this bourbon in 2018 (then billed as a single barrel release) and one immediate difference vs. today’s Batch 25 is the jump in proof from 100 to 128.2. The mashbill features corn, malted rye, and malted barley. If this reads like a subset of the Bad Guy mashbill, the experience follows suit, with notes that are similar, sans the prominent smokiness and a few notches down on the oakiness, which lets traditional vanilla and burnt caramel notes come through. The nose is more subtle than Bad Guy and amazingly soft for its high heat index, though there is still a touch of smokiness on the nose to bring up some graham crackers and Port/prune notes. The bright spiciness of candied orange and cinnamon greet you on the palate with oakiness that is again surprisingly restrained, with little evidence of the high proof. This expression is so mild compared to the stated proof that it’s enough to tempt some skepticism. 128.2 proof. A- / $108 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Distillery 291 E (Experimental) Colorado Whiskey Batch 9 – The E series is meant to include unique expressions where 291 “thinks outside the box.” Each year’s expression stands on its own, and for Batch 9, 291 has teamed up with Marianne Eaves, famed Kentucky master distiller, for a special blending of 291 whiskeys that is also part of her 2021 Eaves Blind series. The nose seems to hint at the Bad Guy in this mix (perhaps suggesting there is smoked barley in the unstated mashbill) but with a slightly more abrasive smoky acetone character and less sweet, stewed fruit. The palate agrees, as it leans drier than the High Rye, with a kick of smokiness, followed by spicy fruitiness featuring some peach, a sophisticated mellowing foil to the cinnamon bomb. Again, hard to believe it’s 129.6 proof. Very well presented with being both punchy and balanced at the same time. 129.6 proof. A- / $150