2023 Pinhook "Bourbon Resolve" Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Stop me if you've heard this one before... one day, three friends got together with an idea to start a Bourbon brand. 


Hang on a sec… before we head down that rabbit hole, we need to talk about pinhooking. Yet, before I get there, I need to deviate again… There’s this thing in whiskey called the secondary market. That’s where folks buy a bottle of whiskey with the absolute intention of flipping it for a profit. Some folks are very good at this. I’m not one of those people because I don’t participate in it.


Pinhooking is like a “secondary market” for racehorses (except, unlike for whiskey, it is legal). Investors will purchase very young horses, many times weanlings, to flip them in a year or so for a profit. One such successful investor is Jamie Hill. He and his partner, Mike McMahon, race horses under the name Bourbon Hill Stable.


Hill’s best friend is Jay Peterson, a TV producer who was friends with a guy named Sean Josephs. Josephs was a restauranteur; restaurants Char #4 and Maysville were bourbon-centric, and he just shuttered Maysville, leaving him with 20 barrels of Bourbon and no clue what to do with them. Josephs asked Hill if he had any suggestions, and the next thing you know, Josephs, Peterson, and his wife are buying 40 more barrels from MGP.


The Petersons and Hill started hanging out together at the racetrack. When Hill learned what the Petersons and Josephs wanted to do with those barrels, he stated it sounded like pinhooking. More talk led to connecting horses from Bourbon Hill Stable with the whiskeys, and the result was each vintage would be named for a horse and its racing career. Thus, Pinhook was born.   


Today, I’ll explore Bourbon Resolve, Pinhook’s flagship Bourbon for 2023. It is made by Castle & Key Distillery from a mash of 75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malted barley. It spent at least three years in new, charred oak barrels. Bottled at 50.74% ABV (101.48°), a 750ml package has a suggested price of $42.99. At my local store, I paid $37.99.


“Intended for everyday drinking, Pinhook's continuously available Flagship Bourbon is great in cocktails or as a straight pour. Because we blend and proof to make the best—not necessarily the same—whiskey every time, each year’s vintage features slight variations that capture the unique attributes of every barrel.” – Pinhook


This is important to note because, previously, Pinhook sourced from MGP until 2020. Even if the mash and cooperage are precisely the same, there’s no way in the world that Castle & Key would be able to duplicate what MGP distilled. There are too many other variables that make that impossible. Castle & Key started distilling for Pinhook in 2017.


I’ve never tried anything from Pinkhook, so the above has zero impact on my experience. But if you’re tapping into older vintages, it’ll make a difference.


Let’s do the #DrinkCurious thing and see if this was a smart buy!


Appearance: I poured Pinhook’s Bourbon Resolve into a Glencairn glass to sip neat. The liquid inside was a brilliant orange amber. A thinner rim generated slow, thick tears.


Nose: As I brought the glass underneath my nostrils, the aroma offered lightly toasted oak that almost got lost with an explosion of butterscotch. When I delved deeper, I smelled honey and apricots. I drew that vapor into my mouth and discovered vanilla cream.


Palate: This Bourbon went down like liquid fire. It would be best never to judge a whiskey poorly on that initial sip because you are responding to palate shock. When I hopped back on the saddle, that napalm quality was nowhere to be found. The front of my palate found caramel, spiced nuts, and torched vanilla. At my mid-palate, I tasted roasted coffee, tobacco leaf, and leather. The back had freshly cracked black pepper, intense cinnamon, and charred oak.


Finish: Black pepper, cinnamon Red Hots, barrel char, tobacco leaf,  and leather were easily discerned during this Bourbon’s mile-long race. A puff of mint came out of nowhere as it crossed the finish line.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If I had scratched this journey based on that first impression, I would have been the loser. It paid dividends to give it a second chance. Bourbon Resolve is not for the faint of heart; it drinks a dozen or so points above its stated proof. There’s a lot of value in Pinhook’s Bourbon Reserve, and I believe a Bottle rating is justified. 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.