Review: Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Ghost, Blade Rummer, and Milkman

Review: Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Ghost, Blade Rummer, and Milkman

It’s been a few years since we last checked in on Richmond’s Reservoir Distillery. The craft whiskey producer remains rather unique among its peers, offering 100% grain mashbills and aging in small barrels (mostly 5-gallon). While we’ve already covered their core portfolio and one half of the Hunter and Scott line, today we’re taking a look at the distillery’s limited edition Holland’s expressions. Each is made from a mashbill of 70% corn, 15% rye, and 15% wheat and aged in a heavily charred “small barrel” cask for two to three years before spending almost as much time (in some cases more) finishing in a different beer cask from Ardent Craft Ales, a nearby brewery in the hip Scott’s Addition neighborhood.

Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Ghost – Finished in an Ardent stout barrel for two and a half years. The aroma is surprisingly mature for a younger bourbon, burly with barrel char, seasoned oak, and torched sugar notes. As it opens, the stout barrel comes into the foreground more with malt balls and Hostess chocolate cupcakes. On the palate, a gingery and slightly astringent entry mellows quickly to overcooked caramel, tart dark fruits, and toasted coconut. It’s big and full-flavored with a warming heat. Things are a bit tightly wound, but a gentle sweetness helps to temper most of the woodshop notes. On the finish, a sweet conclusion of fresh mint, black cherry, and cola. An enjoyable little oak bomb. 107 proof. B+ / $125

Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Blade Rummer – Finished for three years in a rum barrel previously used to finish an Ardent stout. All that time in the secondary cask has helped to really round out and unwind this young, well-oaked bourbon. There’s still some char and old rickhouse notes on the nose, but brighter maple syrup and golden raisin notes offer a welcome contrast. As it opens, molasses and toffee take hold, along with a bit of warm chocolate brownie. The palate is well-balanced and rich but still sees some initial dry, mouthwatering oak. What follows, however, is lush and generously sweet with notes of dark brown sugar, treacle, and banana pudding. The finish is silky and warm with a bit of black pepper, clove, and chocolate sauce. My favorite release from Reservoir to date. 107 proof. A / $125

Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Milkman – Finished for one and a half years in an Ardent milk stout barrel. The aroma showcases notes of coffee grounds, strong black tea, and goatmilk caramels. It’s initially a bit sour and yeasty, but things coalesce well enough as it opens in the glass. On the palate, oak and sour cherry make for a tart entry that stays piquant across the sip, adding clove, chocolate mint, and yogurt-covered almonds. The finish is well-spiced, relinquishing some of the more acidic elements in favor of cinnamon sugar and Tootsie Roll. Milk stout isn’t the easiest finish to pull off, but this is a more than admirable effort. 107 proof. B+ / $125

Reservoir Distillery Holland’s Ghost




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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