I went by Hokus Pokus yesterday to pay my bill and see what they had. Still no Stagg Jr. so I bought another bottle of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Strength as a substitute. I chatted with my friend Hudson Funk for a bit and he asked if he had anything new and different, and he did. Douglas and Todd bourbon. Neither of us could find anything substantive about it on the internet, at least as to reviews.
In any event, Douglas and Todd are not these two drinking buddies who decided to go into the bourbon business. It is the name of the two counties where Phillips Distilling operates in Minnesota. It’s a wheat recipe bourbon, which is what is in Pappy and Weller and I think many distillers are trying to replicate that. Phillips makes a lot of different stuff I have never heard of and also imports some spirits. So you can’t begrudge them for wanting to enter the bourbon market.
The company describes the taste as sweet, smoky and woody with hints of fruit and vanilla. They are not far off the mark. Visually this bourbon is the color of a sherried scotch rather than a bourbon, which is what you might expect from the climate and being aged four years. Nice oily long legs.
On the nose is corn and wheat sweetness with honey and smoke that smells familiar to me. Weird. Mouthfeel is luscious; really well made spirit. Palate is all honey and smoke that’s really reminiscent of scotch rather than bourbon. I don’t know why they are saying there is vanilla in there; it’s just not there. But it does have a scotch fruitiness. That familiar smell shows up on the palate-Drambuie liquor. Herbs and honey with a slight medicinal taste. Unbelievable this could show up in a bottle of bourbon.
I have to say this is so much better than some of the newer bourbon brands I have tried lately, such as Keystone or TX. I wouldn’t recommend this whiskey as representative of classic bourbon. But from a connoisseur’s standpoint, this is a very interesting bourbon. Meaning that if you want to go this direction with the bourbon flavor profile with milder summers and cooler winters in the barrel with a well made spirit, you can and it’s good.
This bourbon makes me think about what if bourbon flavor profiles became as diverse as scotch, or even wine, but not just by distillery. By region. Minnesota Bourbon will definitely have it’s own following in that world.
In short, I don’t agree with Phillips that this is a bourbon drinker’s bourbon. But it’s definitely a whiskey drinker’s whiskey. Lots of character with multi-layered flavors. At $35-40 a bottle, it’s a good one to pick up for something actually different in craft bourbon.
That being said, I will eagerly await Phillips releasing an older version of this whiskey. In another two or three years this could be something really special.