Philadelphia’s New Liberty Distillery makes its Bloody Butcher bourbon with a particular variety of eponymously named corn, grown just 25 miles away from the distillery in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The corn-heavy mash (70%) sees the addition of (curiously) malted rye (26%) and malted barley (4%) before fermentation. While a variety of Bloody Butcher expressions are now available, this one hits the bottle after just 12 months in new oak barrels.
Let’s get our hands bloody, shall we?
12 months is an awfully short amount of time in cask, and it’s well evident from the start. Aggressively oaky on the nose, if the idea was to showcase the power of corn, it doesn’t really come to fruition here, thanks to the overwhelming power of all that wood. A little time in glass does at least bring out some sweetness, a dark caramel note that is agreeable, if indistinct. Gently grassy notes and a light creosote character are also evident.
The palate stays on this bloody, narrow path: Big, well-charred oak coats the tongue, giving way to elements of well-toasted popcorn and dusky cloves, quite bitter and tannic. Time in glass slowly lets this whiskey reveal a little charm, however, uncovering a layer of that caramel that’s evident on the nose, taking a slightly chocolate bent afterward. Shades of sweeter butterscotch — dragged through sawdust — inform the finish. As things wind up, the whiskey does manage to shed a bit of its more brutish qualities, at least for a time.
While this work in progress feels extremely young and rough around the edges, there’s enough under the covers here to make me somewhat interested in what the older expressions of Bloody Butcher may have to offer. At least in theory, anyway.