You can read my review of the regular Mattie Gladden here. Hokus Pokus did a store pick of both the Mattie Gladden and a new wheated bourbon, William Dalton, which heretofore has only been available at the distillery. I sampled both on Friday and ended up taking home the Madden Gladden, but I have notes on both. I paid $54 for my bottle. Spirits of French Lick is really upping their game with producing store picks, including bourbon not generally available in their lineup.
William Dalton Wheated Bourbon – Barrelled in 2017, it appears to be four years old but does not have the straight monicker on the label, so it may be a little less than that. 105.3 proof after barrelling at 105, so this lost a little water over the years. The Mattie Gladden says it is non-chill filtered but William Dalton makes no such statements, so I am guessing it is chill filtered. Color was a straw amber, decent legs on the swirl, a light bourbon nose on the front, and on the palate is had traditional soft wheated bourbon notes but was missing the characteristic cinnamon notes you would expect on a wheated bourbon aged for sufficient time. In short, this was a lot like regular Maker’s Mark or Weller Special Reserve, but with a little craft bitterness and a little more proof. It’s good, and given that you can’t really get Weller Special Reserve (or any other Weller for that matter), it is definitely worth picking up if you love younger wheated Bourbons. My final thoughts are that this will be amazing in another two to four years after some barrel aging. Wheated bourbon just takes more time to develop in the barrel.
The Mattie Gladden Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Barrelled in 2017, and given that it has the word straight on the label, we know this is a four year old high rye bourbon bottled at 101.3 proof, which is an odd proof. My guess is that we had some alcohol evaporate from the 105 barrelling proof and that this is nevertheless cask strength. This could be a good thing if the remaining water coaxed more oak notes from the barrel. Color is a solid amber, much darker than the Dalton. On the swirl nice oily droplets form a broken film; these then turn into nice legs. On the nose are some nice caramel notes, candied corn, and herbal rye – really grain forward. On the palate, some green apple and citrus notes come the fore along with buttery English toffee (makes me want a Heath bar right now) with herbal rye, clove, and candied corn in the background, which finishes long with candied rye, clove, and drying oak notes. Really nice mouthfeel. This is one of those bourbons that you don’t just sip, but give it a Kentucky chew each time to really coat the palate; otherwise you miss a lot that is going on here. Compared with the standard bottled in bond release, this barrel selection is really outstanding. It really shows off Spirits of French Lick’s “Respect the Grain” philosophy while having a little extra toffee and oak to really make this a nice dram. While I felt the standard release was a spring and summer bourbon, this is fall in a glass reminding you of toffee apples at Halloween, and having hot tea to go with it, but with an element of clove. This is truly excellent and extremely complex whiskey.