Oregon-based Wolf Spirits is wasting no time in building out their new line of Puncher’s Chance bourbons. In 2021 Drinkhacker reviewed their inaugural Puncher’s Chance, a blend of 4 and 6 year old sourced Kentucky bourbon, and in 2022 their follow-on D12stance expression, which leaped to a 12 year old age statement, also sourced, this time from Tennessee.
Up next is The Left Cross, a 14 year old straight bourbon whiskey finished in Jamaican dark rum casks. Wolf Spirits states that the source of this whiskey is IJW Whiskey Company in Louisville, a company which, in turn, most likely sourced it from elsewhere since, by all accounts, IJW Whiskey Company did not exist 14 years ago, as either a company or a distillation facility. (We reviewed IJW’s first release MarFarlane’s Reserve last year, which provides the peculiarly sparse information on the operation.)
We really can’t even guess at what this expression has to offer since there is no commonality with prior Puncher’s Chance releases in the base distillate or the aging and finishing process. So let’s just get right to it.
The nose is immediately notable for its lack of heat and an enticing caramel soda aroma. (And do I detect a hint of barn hay straw?) The palate is delightful with a very crisp display of standard bourbon notes that dance around each other. Most pronounced is soft cereal, semi-sweet chocolate, mint, burnt marshmallow, and cinnamon tea with a touch of lemon peel. Underneath are hints of vanilla, leather, and rock candy. The finish still sparkles with spicy mint and cinnamon notes and the mellowing sweetness of the burnt marshmallows and chocolate. Once you let the finish ride a while, the closing note does seem to rest on muted leather infused with vanilla extract, which somehow makes you go back for another sip.
Putting aside the obscurity of the where/how/what of The Left Cross, it’s perhaps best to just crack open a dram and let the story unfold if/when it ever does. Once a whiskey gets to 14 years, the risk of being over-oaked is usually the biggest conundrum, but here things have managed to escape the hurdle with pleasant results, perhaps owing to the finishing in rum casks, which seems to work out well here.
A- / $150 / puncherschancebourbon.com