We dug into most of the bourbon lineup from Virginia’s Ragged Branch back in 2020, but now the distillery appears to be getting into the private barrel game in a unique way. The craft distillery, a Dave Pickerel protégé, is partnering with Washington, D.C.’s Bourbon Steak, described as Chef Michael Mina’s love letter to the American steakhouse, to create Bourbon Steak Bourbon exclusively available at the restaurant’s flagship Georgetown outpost in the swanky, lobbyist-filled Four Seasons Hotel.
So, what exactly is Bourbon Steak Bourbon? Based on everything I can glean from the press release and accompanying photo, this is a single cask of Ragged Branch’s Double Oaked Wheated Bourbon bottled at cask strength. The standard strength version was one of the standouts when we first tasted through the portfolio, so let’s see what this bespoke, higher-octane version has to offer.
It’s burly on the nose with lots of oak and barrel char up front, eventually giving way to dark molasses and a cocktail cherry sweetness. With even more time in the glass, this one shows some impressive maturity with deep notes of polished wood and damp tobacco. At cask strength, the aroma is surprisingly restrained, but on the palate, things are a little more aggressive. Cherry cola and Tootsie Roll notes kick things off, transitioning to Big Red gum and a bit of Chinese five spice before a peppery, midpalate kick that quickly fades to simmering chili pepper and clove. The secondary maturation has added a healthy layer of chocolate and seasoned oak to the mix, but there’s nothing sharp or gritty here. The palate is oily and round, coalescing into a long, syrupy finish of cocoa powder, black cherry, and Raisinets. A helluva companion to a well-grilled cut of meat, and a great foundation to an Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Dave would be proud.
A / $NA / raggedbranch.com