Based in Colorado Springs, Distillery 291 has recently released Batch 12 of their ongoing E Series, which is their limited release offerings of experimental blends. This comes hot on the heels of the All Rye Colorado Whiskey which we recently reviewed (and have covered various other offerings across their portfolio over the years). Batch 12 is a wheated bourbon whiskey which is “a marriage of barrels from two different wheated bourbon mashbills”. The mashbill includes unspecified ratios of corn, malted wheat, malted rye, and malted barley. The blend is finished in aspen wood staves, and is a delayed follow up to the wheated Bad Guy Bourbon that was initially released in 2013 (and which we finally managed to catch up to in 2022).
There’s a lot going on here, so best to just get right to it.
At 121.6 proof, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise at the bit of hazmat heat on the nose at first whiff. This quickly subsides and patient revisits unveil a dense sweetness of spiced raisins and burnt butter cookies — which in no way sets up expectations for what follows. The first hit on the palate is that of roasted grass — with a minty, earthy, grassy profile all in one. There’s a bit of rave-like dance after with big spice from the rye, a cinnamon Red Hots pop, burnt bits of street corn, white pepper, citrus rind, and a clingy finish of creamy cornflake cereal with some distinct drying wood notes.
As David noted in his reflection of what it means to be finished in “aspen wood staves” in his review of the All Rye, the woodiness is very prominent but it’s not that of traditional oak. The best I can do is refer to this as that wood scent from a dry sauna or as being surrounded by dried hay straw. If all this sets up expectations for an unappealing and chaotic mess, that would be a red herring as well. Miraculously, this all comes together in a remarkably enchanting way, like a Chex Mix of the boldest, funnest personalities of high-proof bourbons, all of which stand out on their own without overpowering the other notes. Overall, the whiskey is rather complementary and balanced.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it would have been irrelevant anyway. Batch 12 is a hoot and 291’s E Series is producing some very unique and notable offerings, and is one to keep on the radar.
A- / $150 / distillery291.com