Watershed Distillery 5-Year Nocino Cask Finished Bourbon Lottery & Whiskey Review


How would you like to win the lottery? I’m not talking about anything as petty as Powerball or Mega Millions. I’m talking about the upcoming lottery that Watershed Distillery is running for the right to purchase its 5-Year Nocino Cask Finished Bourbon. This is for Batch #004.  


If you’re like me, you were left scratching your head thinking, What’s Nocino? Well, we don’t leave stones unturned regarding background information.


Nocino is an ancient dark brown liqueur that heralds from the Emilia-Romagna of Italy and is made from unripe, green walnuts. Its origins can be traced to the Roman Empire! After the walnuts are steeped in alcohol, they’re removed, and the liquid is blended with simple syrup. Recipes can boil down to a very individualistic preference with additives such as clove, coffee, citrus, cinnamon, etc.; the base spirit can be pure alcohol or vodka.


Watershed Distillery utilized an Ohio-derived version of Nocino to finish this Bourbon.


“Nocino generally hails from Italy, but thanks to our good friend and local, Charlie, who shared his time-honored family recipe, we’ve been able to help the tradition take root in the Midwest. After making our Nocino, we age it in spent Bourbon barrels for added richness and complexity.” – Watershed Distillery

This limited-edition, cask-strength Bourbon is made from a mashbill of 72% corn, 21% rye, and 7% malted barley. It spent five years in #5-charred oak casks! Bottled at 60.45% ABV (120.9°), a 750ml package costs $99.99 and is a distillery-only offering.


But you can’t buy it if you don’t win Watershed’s lottery! The drawing will occur on December 8, 2023, and the distillery will notify the winners.


What are the lottery’s rules? How do you enter? Head on over to Watershed’s website!  


Now, the big question is, How does this unique Bourbon taste? I’ll #DrinkCurious and tell you. But before I do that, I must thank Watershed Distillery for sending me a sample in exchange for my review.


In full disclosure, there is a string attached to this review. I must provide two social media posts – one for the review (that’s not a string because every whiskey gets reviewed) and a second as a reminder to enter the lottery. However, that won’t affect the outcome.


Let’s get this first part of the string done.


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass to sip it neat. The liquid inside was dark mahogany. A deep red hue stood out. That is due to a combination of five years in #5 charred oak and the Nocino cask finish. A thin, fragile rim generated a wavy curtain that fell back into the pool.


Nose: This Bourbon’s fragrance smelled of spiced plums with cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, and oak. It also had a slight bitterness. When I drew the air through my lips, caramel and plums rolled across my tongue.


Palate: The texture was heavier than I expected for a whiskey at this proof. It coated the entirety of my mouth and throat. There was an explosion of gingerbread, plum, and vanilla on the front of my palate. Midway through, I tasted fresh leather, charred oak, and nutmeg. The back had flavors of charred oak, cinnamon spice, and clove.


Finish: Long and spicy, I encountered plum, nutmeg, leather, clove, a wisp of smoke, and gingerbread.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Sipping this Bourbon was an experience of its own. It drank below its stated proof, perhaps by a dozen or so points. While I’ve never tried Nocino before, I’m assuming its influence is what tamed any heat associated with the alcohol content. However, I will say that my hard palate was tingling by the time I finished my pour.


The gingerbread bomb shocked me. I enjoy extra-heavy char levels, and #5 was near-perfect. The fruitiness of plums did a lovely job of offsetting what may otherwise have been a mulling spice overload.


Watershed’s 5-Year Nocino Cask Finished Bourbon will grab (and hold) your attention. It would be impossible to evade its enchanting quality. Is the lottery worth entering? Yes. Does the Bourbon earn my Bottle rating? Also, yes. 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 to do so responsibly.