Wilderness Trail Single Barrels
The folks behind Wilderness Trail are taking Kentucky down a road less traveled, willing to try craft techniques in a locale synonymous with consistency and tradition, aware that bourbon drinkers will judge them against the likes of Weller, Four Roses and Heaven Hill. It's a hefty burden - and one they are managing with aplomb.
Wilderness Trail, which has dazzled folks close to home for the last year, has just arrived in California. And their arrival is a confident one: the bourbon is Bottled-in-Bond, the rye is Cask Strength, and both are Single Barrels - all bold choices for a producer that began distilling in 2013. Wilderness Trail knew what they wanted from the get-go - no young releases or bottling sourced whiskey, and they were willing to wait for it. The distillery also chose to use a sweet-mash fermentation instead of the traditional sour mash, betting that their recipe would capture the palates of single barrel sippers (a confident choice since a sour mash is more blending friendly and consistent.) Aging in barrels crafted from 18 month old air-seasoned staves, and barreling at one of the lowest entry proofs in the industry help craft whiskeys with incredible richness and silky smooth texture.
In both expressions, Wilderness Trail gives significant spotlight to supporting grains. The Bourbon features 24% wheat and 12% barley resulting in a buttery, sweet whiskey with notes of honey cornbread, chocolate and cherries, all drizzled with a bit of cola syrup. The sweetness is wonderfully balanced, a bourbon tailor made for fans of Weller and EH Taylor Small Batch.
With 33% corn and 11% barley supporting the rye grain, WIlderness Trail has made something truly vibrant in their Cask Strength rye whiskey. One of the more fruit and citrus forward ryes you'll come across, this one overflows with lychee, lemon peel, ume and a soft effervescence that quickly envelopes the tongue. Supporting notes of black pepper and spice carry it through to a very fruity finish. The brightness is balanced by a creaminess that makes this rye a much silkier sipper than then the 117 proof would imply, and in a pleasant surprise, reminds us of the St. George Baller.