Review: Yellowstone Special Finishes – Toasted and Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2023

Review: Yellowstone Special Finishes – Toasted and Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2023

More goodies are incoming from Yellowstone, including the annual release of its 101 proof Limited Edition plus a new experience for those more interested in immersing themselves in the craft of making bourbon.

Yellowstone Toasted is the first in a new line called the Special Finishes Collection, which will be full-time, permanent releases that focus on, well, special finishes. These finishes are similar to the Maker’s Mark Private Selection program, with various extra staves dunked into the barrels as they’re completing the aging process. This bottle is especially interesting because it includes small samples of the five wooden staves used to finish the whiskey — known as high toast, American oak double toast, high vanilla, rickhouse, and spicerack — so you can nose each sliver of oak and then taste the whiskey to see if you can suss out how the finished product was impacted by it. Fun stuff.

Let’s taste both.

Yellowstone Bourbon Special Finishes Collection – Toasted – The first thing I learned with this whiskey (four years old, by the by) is that you don’t get very far nosing small samples of dry wood. The five stave samples in this kit all smell delightful, but they’re all variations on a theme — toasty-oaky, with varying elements of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Imagining how one would impact a finished whiskey is hard enough. All five? I couldn’t possibly guess. Well, I suppose I don’t have to guess, because the end product is right here in front of me. Yellowstone Toasted offers a quite sweet nose, melding generalized oak tones with heavy notes of maple and vanilla syrup, eventually meandering into a creamy caramel quality. The palate, fortunately, isn’t so overblown with sweetness (though it’s still quite sugary), taking a more traditional approach that leans into buttery peanuts, toasted corn, milk chocolate, and mild notes of cinnamon. A spicy but fleeting tobacco note perks up with time in glass, but the overall impression is surprisingly mild, the finish offering notes of well-sweetened peach tea and honey-roasted peanuts. Honestly, I don’t mind this whiskey at all, but the sweetness overwhelms the experience, washing away any subtleties underneath. 100 proof. B+ / $50

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2023 – This is our seventh review of Yellowstone LE, and as usual it is a wildly different expression than we’ve seen before. This one’s a blend of 7-, 13-, and 16-year-old bourbons that is finished in Tokaji wine casks, the Hungarian sweet wine that seems to be making a surprising run at the whiskey world of late. The sweetness of the Tokaji comes through on the nose here, if indistinctly, offering notes of spiced plums, raisins in red wine, and some camphor, lending the aromatics a slight medicinal quality. The palate has a bold spice to it — somewhere between cloves and ginger, hard to place, with a peppery bent. Dark red fruit notes keep things lively, with a mulled wine quality emerging, turning chocolatey with time in glass, nodding at roasted chestnuts and Port (or, more to the point, somewhat related Tokaji wine). The finish has a sharpness to it, focused on cherries and oak, perhaps the most traditional part of the experience, evoking the peppery barrel char of a classically structured bourbon. Fun stuff, and enough off the beaten path to merit seeking out. Compare to releases from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. 101 proof. A- / $130 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon 2023




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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