Mayor Pingree Black Label Batch 6 15-Year Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Valentine Distilling has been around since 2007. What’s that? Have you not heard of it? Founded in Detroit, Michigan, by Rifino Valentine, it bills itself as one of the first microdistilleries in the country before the distilling craze took hold.


The centerpiece of the distillery is Sherbert, a custom-made, 1500 gallon copper pot still, the first to be imported to the United States by Frilli, a 100+-year-old Italian still maker. Valentine is eco-conscious, having developed a 10-year climate sustainability initiative, concentrating first on reduction, recycling, and reuse, and once achieved, looking to wind and solar energies to power the campus.


“Everything that I do must be done with quality in mind above all else. I’ve always appreciated the American craftsman; working by hand, making one-of-a-kind items that stand the test of time. I take great pride in using old-world techniques that haven’t changed in centuries. There are no computers controlling the stills, just our sense of taste and smell to determine the cuts.” – Rifino Valentine


Its Master Distiller is Justin Aden. He started his distilling career straight out of college at Michigan State University, where he majored in Microbiology and Molecular Science. He concentrated on fermentation science and worked for the MSU Artisan Distilling Program, where he distilled full-time and acted as a researcher and industry consultant. He joined Valentine Distilling in 2014.


Today I’m sipping on Mayor Pingree Black Label Straight Bourbon. This one is Batch 6, utilizing a mash from only seven barrels of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley sourced from MGP/LDI and aged 15 years! A portion of the aging process occurred in a climate-controlled warehouse in California before being transferred for final aging in Michigan. It is non-chill filtered and weighs in at a hefty 114°. There are only 684 bottles available, and you can expect to spend about $159.99 on a 750ml package.


If you’re curious who Mayor Pingree was, you’re not alone. Hazen Stuart Pingree was a socialite and storied mayor of Detroit elected in 1890. He was a trust-buster, targeting monopolies and corruption, and was a champion of the poor, taking vacant lands and turning them into vegetable gardens to feed the needy. Pingree was re-elected three times before becoming Michigan’s two-term governor.


Before I get to the tasting notes, I wish to thank Valentine Distilling for providing me a sample of Mayor Pingree Black Label in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. I’ll #DrinkCurious and discover what this is all about.


Appearance: Inside the bottle, the Bourbon looked almost like cranberry juice. Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn glass, Mayor Pingree was reddish amber. It formed an almost microscopic rim that generated thick, runny legs.


Nose: I spilled a drop on my hand while pouring the whiskey into my glass. I sniffed the droplet, and it was rich dark chocolate. That remained in the glass, along with thick caramel, butterscotch, nutmeg, berry, and old oak. The oak wasn’t dry; it just smelled ancient. Caramel and the old oak rolled across my tongue when I pulled the air into my mouth.


Palate:  A massive oil slick filled my mouth, yielding flavors of dark chocolate and heavy caramel on the front. The middle tasted of butterscotch, roasted coffee, and cocoa. Oak, clove, nutmeg, and leather filled the back of my palate.


Finish:  Nutmeg, cocoa powder, butterscotch, black pepper, and old oak began the journey's end. Fresh leather stuck around for what seemed to be forever.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Mayor Pingree Black Label drank way under its stated proof and was about as easy a sipper as one could imagine. That shocked me. It is a 15-year pre-MGP-sourced Bourbon, and, simply put, you don’t run into those every day. There are plenty of spicy and savory notes, but the sweeter ones prevented them from dominating the experience. I just loved it, and considering what it is, I believe its price tag is reasonable. I’m sure you’ll agree it deserves a Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.




  1. I there an after market for the 15yr bourbon?

    1. I'm not a follower of the secondary market, but I'd assume so.


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