Review: Laws Bourbon – Honey Cask and Cognac Foeder Finishes (2023)

Review: Laws Bourbon – Honey Cask and Cognac Foeder Finishes (2023)

Late last year, Denver’s Laws Whiskey House dropped two new installments in its Special Finish Series, and they couldn’t be more different. Both start with Laws Four Grain Bourbon (60% corn, 20% heirloom wheat, 10% heirloom rye, and 10% heirloom malted barley)
… and then down the rabbit hole we go.

Laws Four Grain Bourbon Honey Cask Finished – This is a collaboration with, of all places, a honeybee apiary called Bee Squared Apiaries. After aging in new charred oak barrels for 2 years and 8 months, Laws Four Grain Bourbon goes into barrels previously used to store Bee Squared honey. (Those barrels are, in turn, former Laws bourbon barrels, so they’re coming full circle.) The bourbon spends an additional year and a half in the finishing barrel, for a total aging time of 4 years, 2 months. Laws has produced some outstanding whiskeys in the past, but this may be my favorite to date — and I don’t even gravitate to honey barrel finishing all that much. Here, the combination is just about perfect, the nose rich with earthy honey and tea leaf notes, pairing wonderfully with the vanilla and spice of the whiskey. The (initial) barrel influence is well integrated, providing a sedating, vaguely wintry quality. The palate is even better: Rich and sweet, vanilla and honey providing a base in equal proportions against which more traditional whiskey elements can eventually play — char, some herbaceousness, lots of fresh cinnamon, coconut, and toasted almonds. The tea leaf reprise on the finish is intense and lovely, with a dribble of sweet honey to keep things chewy and sunny. It’s a great journey from beginning to end, but the strong through-line of earthy honey keeps you on a straight and narrow path. Love it. 95 proof. A / $80

Laws Four Grain Bourbon Finished in a Cognac Foeder (2023) – What’s a foeder? What’s a foeder with you? Sorry, dad jokes. This whiskey has been produced multiple times by Laws, starting in 2017, and it’s now an annual release that is evolving as a solera style bottling. We’ve yet to review it, however. The 2023 bottling is a blend of whiskeys aged between four and eight years, then finished in Cognac casks. It’s actually a tertiary aging that is used for the solera vat: this is a 50-year-old French oak blending vessel (the foeder), which was sourced from Alain Royer, also in Cognac. This cuts a more traditional profile than the Honey Cask release, with a more heavily charred quality on the nose, a weightier cereal element, and more peppery punch. Much the same on the palate, though here the notes of raisins and dark cherries come into focus just for a bit, before retreating into a more sultry character of cola, brewed tea, and wet leather. A hint of bay leaf on the finish adds an herbal punch before the dark/dried fruit character comes rolling back into focus. It’s the finish where this whiskey shines the brightest, though I invariably wished for more of that fruit on the nose. 95 proof. A- / $85

lawswhiskeyhouse.com

Laws Four Grain Bourbon Honey Cask Finished

$80
9.5

Rating

9.5/10

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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