Hood River Spirits, based in Oregon, has been slowly moving upmarket with its Pendleton Canadian Whisky brand, which we’ve covered at length. Recently it dropped its oldest expression ever, a blended whisky carrying the name of Directors’ Reserve and a 20 year old age statement. (The directors in question are the heads of Oregon’s annual Pendleton Round-Up rodeo.)
Bottled with a rodeo-inspired stopper, velcro-affixed leather neck strap, and a weighty decanter, let’s find out if this is worth the $150 asking price.
On the nose, there’s no huge surprises. Pendleton is known for being sweet, and the notes of maple syrup and butterscotch here are sizable. Big vanilla, big caramel, cotton candy — this is a sugar bomb, though it’s tempered by a layer of oak, courtesy of a fifth of a century spent in cask. The palate does not diverge. In fact, it comes across as even sweeter, with notes of vanilla syrup, strawberry soda, and plenty more maple to muddle yourself in. The finish keeps the pedal down on sweetness, coming across as slightly cloying at times, although it is mercifully countered to some extent by toasty oak here, though not nearly to the degree you’ll find present on the nose.
Do I love it? No. But I know Pendleton die-hards — and any fan of very sweet whisky — will likely approve of the message the directors are selling. And that message is sugar.
B / $150 / pendletonwhisky.com