Lost Republic Cask Strength Private Barrel 116 Proof Bourbon
This barrel comes to us from the good folks over at Lost Republic, or "the whiskey with the bear", as our customers are fond of calling it. Founded in 2013, the bourbon was originally sourced from Indiana's MGP. Head distiller Matt Weese was a fan of their bourbon profile, so he went directly to the source to learn how it was crafted. He trained and developed what would become Lost Republic's recipe on the distillery's 10,000 gallon Vendome copper pot still (an obscure and old fashioned style still for MGP whiskey, which is almost all made on more modern and efficient column stills).
As luck would have it, when Vendome was making that copper pot still for MGP, they actually made an identical twin, which landed in Larkspur, California at O'Neill Vintners and Distillers - whose production is behind brands such as Copper & Kings and Sacred Bond. Born and raised in California's wine country, it was a natural fit to move production locally, and make bonafide California bourbon. He also took with him to O'Neill the signature Lost Republic mashbill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. Over time, Lost Republic has experimented with both pot and column, and these barrels represent a happy medium - a blend of both column and pot together, lending the weight and big flavor of pot still whiskey with the more genteel column still profile. We're pretty tickled at how odd the whole arrangement is, a small producer (Lost Republic has only 1,200 barrels aging currently), doing their own distillation in very small quantities, with the equipment and resources of a large spirits producer who doesn't actually make whiskey of their own.
But of course the story doesn't end with stills, and as many bourbon producers will tell you, the spirit is made on the stills, but the bourbon is really made in the barrels. Lost Republic uses three year air dried oak from Demptos Cooperage in Napa, first toasted and then blasted with a #2 level char, significantly less than most big Kentucky distilleries, staves formed into a larger than normal 59 gallon barrel. The extended air drying removes the bitter notes you get on less seasoned barrels, and the toasting combined with the lower char give the spirit sweetness and subtle vanilla and caramel notes, without bombarding it with big woodiness. The grain character is beautifully melded into the barrel flavors, and create a bourbon that is complex without coming off as heavy - perfectly suited for sipping on a bright California evening.
Our 116 proof barrel is a golden boy. The nose is filled with aromas of sweet cornbread, apricot, delicate grassiness, brown butter, and lemon zest. The palate follows similarly with buttercream, golden raisins, honey nut cheerios, sweet tea, and apricot jam, leading to a finish of dry oak spice, white chocolate, buttery vanilla, and a touch of herbs. Though it is intensely rich and full, it's a sunset sweetheart rather than the dark nighttime temptation that its sister barrel exemplifies.