On June 22, 2018, a tornado hit Warehouse 30 at the 1792 Barton Distillery, causing the warehouse to partially collapse. Since that time, I have been waiting for 1792 to put out this limited release. Most bourbon nerds at the time thought, somewhat jokingly but somewhat not, that 1792 would put out some bourbon that served the collapse. We still haven’t seen a release from 1792 from the warehouse collapse.
But, on Friday, I went to Hokus Pokus, and they had a barrel pick from Blue Note – a straight bourbon whiskey distilled in Kentucky that is at least three years old according to the label, that is uncut and unfiltered, and weighs in at a hefty 121.3 proof. For $40! I sampled some and bought two bottles. I have since done my research on the provenance of this whiskey, and it turns out that it is very interesting. This provenance explains the “Lost Ghost” sticker for Hokus’ barrel pick.
The website notes that this bourbon has a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% rye, and 9% malted barley, which is the mashbill for the O.Z. Tyler distillery, which now Green River Distilling Company in Owensboro, Kentucky. Not quite a year after the 1792 collapse, on June 17, 2019 to be precise, O.Z. Tyler had a partial warehouse collapse after another tornado. Blue Note’s website states that this whiskey came from barrels affected by a warehouse collapse in 2019, and this makes sense given the mashbill and age of the whiskey. That means that after the collapse these barrels were exposed to mud, the elements, Kentucky sunshine during that summer interrupted by pelting rains, and blistering cold winds and snow in the following fall and winter that the whiskey would not have had in the warehouse. My bet is that this would accelerate the aging of the bourbon, and the folks at Blue Note think so too. This should be a very interesting bourbon. This will be the first time I have sampled anything from O.Z. Tyler/Green River, and the first time I have had bourbon from barrels that survived a warehouse collapse.
For being only 3 or 4 years old, the color on this bourbon is a very deep amber, likely coming from the influence of the barrel being exposed to the elements. Thin film but nice legs on the swirl. The nose is a very nice traditional bourbon nose that particularly highlights vanilla. On the palate, this is old school bourbon with an emphasis on vanilla, candied cherry notes, and some black pepper and star anise. Mouthfeel is medium full bodied (think medium rare on a steak). This finish starts off strong emphasizing the cherries and black pepper notes, and then fades into spiciness.
This is a very good cask strength Kentucky Bourbon. At $40 it is a steal, and I highly recommend it. What I can’t get over is the three year old age statement. This tastes far older, like in the eight to ten year old range. Of all the gimmicks whiskey producers use to try and accelerate the aging of bourbon, who knew exposure of a barrel to the elements outside of a warehouse would do so much to create a great bourbon so quickly. This whiskey may have been born yesterday but it was up all night, and it shows.