Buzzard’s Roost got a quiet start in 2020, and now the Louisville-based brand is on a tear, with at least eight expressions of bourbon and rye now available. In late 2021, bottling, aging, and finishing operations moved to Bardstown Bourbon Company; all spirits however are still sourced from MGP in Indiana.
We recently received a small armada of Buzzardly bottles for review, to which we will get tasting presently.
Buzzard’s Roost Straight Bourbon Toasted French Oak – 5 years old, finished in uncharred toasted French oak. 74% corn, 21% rye, 5% malted barley. I was definitely expecting more depth and intrigue here. This whiskey has an overload of wood and popcorn up front, with notes of leather and cloves dominant over any sense of fruit or sweetness. The palate’s a straight-up visit to the (burnt) popcorn factory, secondary notes of licorice and burnt almonds masking a light touch of Maraska cherry, leading from there to an asphalt-laden finish. I feel like I must be missing the concept of what the toasted French oak finish was supposed to be bringing to this one. 105 proof. B- / $85
Buzzard’s Roost Straight Bourbon Barrel Strength – 4 to 6 years old, barrel strength; a blend of two rye-based mashbills (total proportions unstated). A solid expression of overproof (though never scorching hot) bourbon, hitting all the right notes. Butterscotch and spice galore appear on the expressive nose, with a healthy slug of oak underneath — though it’s never overbearing. Notes of cloves are moderate here as well as on the palate, which layers in bright cherry, chocolate, and a healthy baking spice character. This is a solid, no-frills bourbon that’s just a little green around the edges, but otherwise lands (surprisingly gently) all the high points one expects from the style. 114.4 proof. A- / $85
Buzzard’s Roost Cigar Rye – 4 year old, 95% rye/5% barley mash that’s finished in oak barrels “lightly smoked with aged Kentucky cigar tobacco leaves.” Extremely unusual, and perhaps an acquired taste. The nose doesn’t connote tobacco immediately but rather eucalyptus, filtered through oak staves. There’s an odd, indistinct sweetness that’s somewhere between coconut nectar and Bit-O-Honey, but it’s also sharp with pepper and a red wine note. The palate is extremely spicy and a bit tough, perhaps evoking fresh tobacco but again returning more to minty eucalyptus, then a strange collection of rhubarb, cinnamon, and mixed red fruit notes. The finish is where tobacco feels clearest, though it’s the least enjoyable part of a somewhat unbalanced experience. 105 proof. B / $75
Buzzard’s Roost Straight Rye Barrel Strength – 4 year old rye, proof varies a bit around 115. No big surprises here on an unfinished, high-proof rye (presumably 95/5) that’s still showing a touch of its youth. Peanutty and spicy on the nose, there’s a light layer of baked apples underneath — albeit mild. More of the same arrives on the palate, a mix of peanut and popcorn and ruddy baking spices, rimmed with dark chocolate. The more cereal-heavy elements fade into the background in time, letting those fruity spice notes carry the whiskey on its way to the finish. Toasty and oaky and balanced with enough fruit on the back end, I gravitated to it more and more as the evening went on, though this is hardly a complex offering. 115 proof as tasted. B+ / $75