South Carolina’s low country is not a place where distilling comes to mind. Hot, humid summers and mild winters. Yes, they do drink a lot of bourbon around those parts, but making it and aging it there?
High Wire Distilling in Charleston is definitely an oddity not only for its locale but the ingredients they use in the mashbill. No rye, no wheat, not even a bit of barley malt. Their bourbon is made from 100% Jimmy Red Corn, an heirloom variety that was almost extinct.
95 proof, the distiller notes attached that they use a low Barrel entry proof. The maximum entry proof is 125 and that is what most distillers use. The old standard proof was 107. Maybe these guys are barreling at 100 proof and lost 5% alcohol to evaporation?
On the swirl, this is an extremely oily bourbon. The color is a nice amber and is amazing given that this whiskey is only two years old. Obviously, South Carolina’s climate contributed to quicker aging. On the nose is cherries, with a hint of pepper, slightly medicinal. On the palate, more cherries and pepper, almost like red hots candies, with a hint of Robitussin on the finish but without the thickness of cough syrup. As it opens up a bit though and my palate gets over the fact that the traditional bourbon flavors are overpowered by what else is going on in the glass, my verdict is that this bourbon is as if someone barreled an old fashioned without the simple syrup or fresh orange slice. Bourbon dominated by cherries and bitters, in the sadomasochistic sense.
This bottle was a gift to me from two good friends and clients. However, I saw this in a liquor store in New Orleans and it was not cheap as I recall. Online pricing has it at $80 or so. So I would recommend this for bourbon nerds who really like Old Fashioneds. It really shows off the diversity that will likely emerge in bourbon as more folks try distilling in different states with different grains. I do have to say I like this because of the interesting flavors.
But, this bourbon completely misses the mark on bourbon flavors one would expect. No vanilla, caramel, dark corn syrup, rye spice, oak, nuts, baking spaces (except for the cinnamon red hots part), tobacco, or leather.
It’s just, well, different.
But, as far as youthful craft Bourbons made outside of Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana, this is pretty amazing.