Green River made welcome waves last year in the world of affordable bourbon with the launch of its first eponymous, house-distilled offering, a rye-heavy mashbill, five-year-old bourbon costing all of $35. At Drinkhacker HQ, we were impressed. And apparently, we weren’t the only ones, as Bardstown Bourbon Co. acquired the distillery that summer.
For 2023, Green River and its new owners added to their portfolio with Wheated Bourbon, another exceedingly solid value, and more recently this bottle, a full proof single barrel only available at the distillery in Owensboro. This first high-octane Green River release (subtitled Head Distiller’s Pick #1) was selected from Warehouse B by Head Distiller Aaron Harris. It was drawn from the flagship, rye-mash bourbon stocks (70% corn, 21% rye, 9% malted barley) and aged at least five years.
Fans can expect subsequent single barrels to arrive at the distillery gift shop throughout the coming months and years, but this first release is also something of a calling card to on- and off-premise retailers who will have the ability to hand-select single casks on-site at the distillery in the future. Let’s check it out.
On the nose, the rye shines at full proof, eclipsing the peppery grassiness found in the standard expression and delivering layers of soft baking spice – clove and nutmeg – and ripe stone fruit; a bright, fresh peach note becomes more baked and caramelized as it opens. The palate is a bit punchy with ethanol up front, transitioning to a simmering minty spice. For a relatively young bourbon, it’s still impressively complex with a generous oily texture. Dark vanilla bean and cinnamon sugar give way to notes of baked apple and whole cloves on the midpalate, which finally finds a comfortable dark caramel sweetness amid the initial wave of black pepper before eroding into a warm, spicy finish of Cracker Jacks, barrel char, and Red Hots. A splash of water rounds out the spicier edges but tempers some of those classic flavors without too much in return. Still, it’s an impressive younger, high-proof single barrel that hits the right price point.
A- / $60 / greenriverdistilling.com