Now a happy member of the Molson Coors family, the still largely unknown Blue Run is out with its first post-acquisition whiskey. Trifecta is a blend of three bourbons (apparently all sourced from Kentucky), with three different mashbills and ages, specifically:
- 32%: 9-year-old: 78% yellow corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley
- 22%: 8-year-old: 75% yellow corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
- 46%: 6-year-old: 78% yellow corn, 12% rye, 10% malted barley
It’s the first new bourbon from Blue Run to arrive this year.
Some errata from the company:
Blue Run Trifecta Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a small-batch whiskey that demonstrates the delicate balancing act required when blending a high-quality base whiskey with the vivid flavors and aromas from older “wood heat” whiskeys. Trifecta starts with a base of finely crafted six-year-old whiskey, which makes up less than half of the composition of the total liquid. To add additional depth and character, Blue Run Whiskey Director Shaylyn Gammon blends that with two whiskeys aged in the upper reaches of their respective rickhouses, giving them what she calls “wood heat.”
“’Wood heat’ barrels are those that experienced the highest temperatures the warehouse has to offer due to their position at the top, forcing out the water molecules and concentrating the alcohol within the barrel,” said Gammon. “These higher-proofed barrels, in turn, extract more of the components of the wood from the barrel that can contribute a particular wood intensity to the whiskey, which needs to be approached with a knowledgeable, restrained hand when blending.”
Shaylyn chose these nine- and eight-year-old barrels from Blue Run’s more than 5,000-barrel inventory knowing that the six-year-old Kentucky whiskey would help balance the spiciness of the aged product. It is a precise art, making sure the “wood heat” barrels add the desired layers of complexity without overpowering the base whiskey. To perfect the blend, Shaylyn used 10% more of the nine-year-old than the eight-year-old specifically to achieve greater approachability at Trifecta’s near barrel proof of 117.1.
Fun Fact: Shaylyn calls the nine-year-old Bourbon in Trifecta the “Lost Whiskey.” After being purchased from the partner distillery, it was discovered the whiskey had somehow made its way from Kentucky to Spain, causing a lot of head scratching and some logistical hoop jumping to get it back to the Commonwealth.
Let’s dive in to this cask strength offering.
To start with, I would definitely have pegged this as having a higher rye content, the nose a powerhouse of toasted grasses, sharp green herbs, and barrel char. Savory to a fault, there’s an umami quality here that is reminiscent of nori and miso, backed up by well-toasted corn. There’s a bit more sweetness on the palate, but not a lot, the grassy qualities retreating a bit to make room for a touch of clover honey, buttered popcorn, and baked apples. Cinnamon emerges on the lengthy finish, though it’s never hot despite the significant abv. While the nose can come across as a bit off-putting, the palate really opens things up and lets the whiskey’s brighter elements shine, tempering any thoughts of austerity.
One of those whiskeys I wish I had more to sample from to dig into it in more depth. C’est la vie.
A- / $180 / bluerunspirits.com