Sledge Distillery's Special Reserve Barrel Finished Spirit & Dad's Butter Pecan Specialty Spirit Reviews

John Walter “Dub” Sledge was a moonshiner. He’d been in the family business with his uncles since childhood. Dub and one of his uncles were drafted and sent to the Pacific theater, where Dub continued making moonshine. He’d sell it or trade bottles for whatever he wanted; as you can imagine, it was in high demand.


After serving in World War II, Dub returned with his belongings to his Texas home. He then met and fell in love with Kathryn. She was straight-laced: she didn’t believe in smoking. She didn’t engage in dancing. And she certainly disapproved of drinking. Dub wanted to marry Kathryn; she wouldn’t until he changed his ways. He changed; they married, and Mark and his two siblings were born at some point. But none of the kids knew their father was a moonshiner.


What Dub failed to dispose of was his moonshine recipe. After his father passed away, Mark was going through his belongings and stumbled upon Dub’s trunk. As the story goes, that’s where it was discovered, and Mark bought a still and followed in his father’s footsteps.


Mark married Susan, and they, along with longtime friend Gary Cooper, opened Sledge Distillery in 2018. Their kids, Evan Sledge, Sarah Sledge, and Nash Cooper, are “all in” with the family business.


“We craft our spirits according to a WWII family recipe and longstanding tradition. Nestled between the historic towns of Granbury and Glen Rose, Sledge Distillery is a fully-operating cattle ranch and distillery where life is slow, just the way we like it. You will taste our patient approach to making exceptional moonshine, bourbon, whiskey, tequila, and gin.” – Sledge Distillery


Today, we will explore two spirits from Sledge Distillery's portfolio: Special Reserve Barrel Finished Spirit and Big Dad’s Butter Pecan Specialty Spirit.


Before we dive deep and do the #DrinkCurious thing, I must thank Sledge Distillery for providing me with these samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.


Special Reserve Barrel Finished Spirit


The first question you may ponder is, What does that mean? Per the TTB, Distilled Spirits Specialty is a catch-all category for a product that doesn’t fit the bill for one specifically defined, such as Brandy, Bourbon, Gin, etc. In the case of Special Reserve Barrel Finished Spirit, it is made from potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and sugar cane…


Whoa. Back that truck up! Tomatoes? For real? That’s what the label says! I’ll be the first to tell you I didn’t know you could even distill tomatoes!


Post-distillation, the spirit was aged in a new, charred oak barrel for an undisclosed period. It is packaged at 57.8° ABV (115.6°), and the website lists a 750ml for $89.99. The bottle I was provided came from Batch 8.


Appearance: I poured this specialty spirit into my Glencairn glass to sip neat because, well, why not? The liquid was burnt umber, and I couldn’t get a rim to form; it kept collapsing under its own weight.


Nose: I smelled charred oak. It was dominating without being overpowering. I picked out butterscotch and cocoa. The air I pulled into my mouth was earthy.   


Palate: The texture was creamy and heavy. Caramel and vanilla were on the front, an earthiness at mid-palate, and clove and charred oak on the back.


Finish: Flavors of caramel, sawdust, bold clove, and barrel char created a long – very long – spicy finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This may be the most #DrinkCurious experience I’ve had. Admittedly, that tomato component had me worried. There was nothing identifiable as tomato-related on the palate.


Out of sheer curiosity, I used an eyedropper to add two drops of water and lower the proof. On the nose, it brought black pepper to the clove and ramped up the caramel. On the palate, the oaky sawdust was magnified; the caramel was enhanced. The earthy quality vanished, and the finish had a reduced intensity, yet its duration was undiminished.


Was this a unique drinking experience? Yes. But I also believe it takes someone looking for precisely that who would be willing to spend $90.00 on it. It would be best if you tried this before making a commitment, and as such, it takes my Bar rating. 




Big Dad’s Butter Pecan Specialty Spirit


I have loved butter pecan since I was a very young child. As you can imagine, this spirit piqued my interest. Sledge blended Canadian whisky from an undisclosed distillery, grain-neutral spirit (GNS), and natural flavors. It is bottled at 35% ABV (70°), and a 750ml is sold on Sledge Distillery’s website for $54.99 or a 375ml is $34.99. My sample is from Batch 35.


Appearance: I used a Glencairn glass to sip this spirit neat. The yellow-orange color looked like what butter pecan would taste like. A massive rim released thick, syrupy legs.


Nose: As I sniffed my glass, my eyes rolled back into my head, and I smiled. It was everything you’d expect from butter pecan. There was the slightest hint of caramel hidden beneath. Drawing the air through my lips allowed me to taste pure pecan.


Palate: The mouthfeel was initially thin and watery. Subsequent sips became thicker and creamier almost exponentially. There was no front, middle, or back. Flavors of roasted pecans, vanilla, and butterfat coated my tongue.


Finish: A warming sensation coated my mouth and throat. It wasn’t hot; it wasn’t spicy. It was just a gentle reminder that this is an adult beverage. Roasted pecans remained for a medium duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Big Dad’s Butter Pecan Speciality Spirit is dessert in a bottle. It will please you beyond words. The more you drink it, the more you’ll enjoy it. And that’s worth grabbing a Bottle regardless of the price.  


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.




  1. We are so pleased you gave our spirits a try! A great deal of care went into making them and we love hearing the feedback. Come visit if you are ever in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


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