It is always exciting when a distillery tries something new. Win, lose, or draw, I have a ton of respect for doing something unusual. Someone who has earned my respect is Stephen Beam, the Master Distiller of Limestone Branch Distillery.
If you’re looking at Stephen’s name and wondering, Is this the same Beams responsible for Jim Beam? The answer is yes, Stephen is part of that Beam dynasty; he’s a seventh-generation distiller.
Stephen founded Limestone Branch in 2011 in Lebanon, Kentucky. His mindset was to craft the best possible small-batch spirits. One of the brands he produces is Yellowstone Bourbon, after the famous namesake National Park. Stephen donates some of his sales to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) to help upkeep our parks.
Today, I’m exploring the Yellowstone Bourbon Special Finishes Collection. This inaugural release is dubbed Toasted.
“The Yellowstone Special Finishes Collection is a great way to honor more than 150 years of bourbon heritage while still keeping things fresh and exciting. I began experimenting with toasted barrels in 2016, 2017, and 2018 with Yellowstone Limited Edition releases and again more recently with distillery-exclusive Yellowstone Toasted Single Barrel. My experience helped in crafting what stave flavors to use and at what percentage to get the right flavor profile for Yellowstone Toasted. I can’t wait for consumers to try this latest full-time member of the Yellowstone Bourbon family.” – Stephen Beam
Barrel finishing is nothing new. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it means that an aged whiskey has been dumped out of the original barrel and placed in another for a shorter time. That barrel could be virgin wood, charred wood, toasted wood, or previously held something else (wine, spirits, beer, coffee, sauces, etc.). The goal is for the aged spirit to take on the qualities of the finishing barrel.
Barrel finishing has its naysayers. Purists may suggest the only reason to finish a whiskey is that there’s something wrong with it, and it is an attempt to salvage that flawed whiskey. While that does happen, that’s not what most finished whiskeys include.
In my opinion, finishing is an art form, much like blending. There are true artists, and there are the clueless. It is easy to screw things up; the whiskey may spend too much time in the finishing barrel(s). Another issue is the quality of what was previously held in the barrel. It would come through to the whiskey in the finishing process if it weren't good.
What makes this Bourbon different? It begins with Yellowstone’s traditional mashbill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. It aged four years in oak and then stave-finished. Five different types of toasted staves were used: High Vanilla, American Oak Double Toast, High Toast, Spicerack, and Rickhouse. After finishing, the Bourbon was bottled at 50% ABV (100°). It comes with a suggested price of $49.99.
I’ve written a lot here, and we can all agree it is time to #DrinkCurious. First, I must thank Limestone Branch for providing me with a sample of this Bourbon in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: I poured this whiskey into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. The liquid looked like slightly tarnished copper. A bold rim formed and released slow, syrupy tears.
Nose: The aroma smelled of raspberries, cherries, vanilla, caramel, and toasted oak. Beneath those were nutmeg and cinnamon. Cherries, chocolate, and caramel flooded my mouth when I drew the air through my lips.
Palate: Yellowstone’s texture was both heavy and creamy. The front of my palate found vanilla, English toffee, and cinnamon. The middle tasted of white pepper, cherries, and Chinese black tea. Flavors of toasted oak, dry cocoa, and tobacco leaf formed the back.
Finish: Cherries, white pepper, toasted oak, toffee, dark chocolate, and cinnamon remained for a medium-to-long finish.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Firstly, Yellowstone’s Toasted is reasonably priced. That’s appreciated in an environment where anything just a smidge different carries a premium hit on the wallet. Secondly, this is a tasty, flavorful Bourbon with plenty of depth to captivate and hold your interest. It is appropriately proofed. The more I sipped it, the more I enjoyed what I was drinking.
Stephen did well with this first Yellowstone Bourbon Special Finishes Collection installment. I hope this doesn’t fall by the wayside, and I look forward to the next release. Hands down, this Bourbon earns every bit of my 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 to do so responsibly.