Milam & Greene’s Unabridged label gets its second installment, although this year there’s no mention of compadres Noah Rothbaum and David Wondrich having a hand in the blend.
Master distiller Marlene Holmes says that there’s older stock in this release than in Unabridged Volume 1, but it remains a cask-strength blend of rare casks from Tennessee, Kentucky, and the operation’s own Texas-based distillate. 800 cases were produced, with availability beginning on September 13.
A little extra detail:
“Only a tiny percentage of our finest casks make it into Unabridged Volume 2,” says Heather Greene, master blender and CEO. “Some of these vintage casks lost 68% of the liquid in them from evaporation over time. What’s left is a rich and luxurious bourbon that adds the perfect amount of wood notes. We also selected young casks for bright flavors popping with fruits and florals. The lucky seven-year-old casks were influenced by the hot summer Texan climate, adding a richness you wouldn’t otherwise find at this age. Blended together, the whiskey from these barrels creates an exciting novel.”
To create Unabridged Volume 2, the Milam & Greene whiskey team harvests bourbon that they distilled in the small copper pot still in Texas and in larger column stills in Kentucky, both using malted rye in the proprietary mash bill. The malted rye, an ingredient that makes Milam & Greene truly unique in the world of whiskey, rounds the flavor of the grain, revealing a soft chocolaty note. Tennessee barrels of different ages add structure and tannins to round out this exciting blend.
“Both pot and column stills bring enticing characteristics to whiskey, “says Marlene Holmes, master distiller. “Pot Stills are more difficult to work with, and a little bit wild but they create a toasty and rich profile. Whereas the traditional column still I distill with in Kentucky creates a more refined distillate.”
Adding to the complexity and flavors of the Unabridged Volume 2 are the dramatic climate swings in Texas where many barrels are aged. Milam & Greene continually tastes and monitors barrels in four different states.
“Climate is yet another ingredient that contributes to the flavors of all our whiskies, including this one,” says Rikk Munroe, Milam & Greene Whiskey distillery manager. “The distilling team monitors our cask maturation closely to ensure we have just the right flavor profiles. A few of the casks used to create Unabridged Volume 2 required storage in a vatting tank to halt the effects of aging and evaporation in anticipation of creating this whiskey.”
The Milam & Greene expert distilling team blind-tasted five different blends to get a consensus on the exact recipe for Unabridged Volume 2. The team of 10 people made a unanimous decision on the final blend for this release, something that has never happened at the distillery.
68% lost to the angels? Whoa. With that, let’s give it a try.
The nose is a powerhouse, blowing things out from the start. There’s an immediate grassy, cereal note here that evokes fresh hay and toasty farm animal feed — not at all in a bad way. It’s quite hearty, with lots of wood influence, but when the boozier elements blow off, it develops more of a fresh tobacco character, with clove notes building.
There’s something of an unavoidable and expressive frontier-style character on the palate — evocative of what Texas-born whiskeys invariably bring to bear. But the palate quickly brightens up, showcasing both fruit — figs are clear, backed up by Maraska cherry — and ample (cold) hot chocolate notes. Butterscotch arrives as things fade out, followed by notes of overcooked blondies on the finish, though again those grassy and tobacco notes tend to linger in the background.
Unabashedly beautiful from start to finish, it’s a fantastic whiskey that takes you on an immersive, epic journey.