Split Rock Distilling Organic Straight Bourbon Review


Founded in 2016 in Newcastle, Maine, by Topher Mallory and Matt Page, Split Rock Distilling came to life because they saw a lack of locally-made whiskeys and wanted to change that. The duo met at a birthday party eleven years prior while chatting about mountain climbing and traveling, and they became fast friends.


They wanted to go a step further than just building a distillery. Split Rock is the first certified organic one in the state. Topher and Matt were all in on the idea. They started with recycled bottles and labels, then added 36 solar panels that allow them to deliver energy back to the power grid. They harnessed recirculated water from their on-site well to address everything from mashing to the final product. They use only locally-grown, organic grains for their spirits.


“We spent evenings and weekends building a distillery and tasting room by hand in an old barn on historic Route One. We sourced organic grains and fruits from the fields of farmers we count as friends. We demanded organic sugars and drew waters so pure locals still harvest winter ice. We refined our fermentations again and again to showcase the unique signatures of our still. And through it all, we gathered knowledge, inspiration, a helping hand and an honest opinion from other distillers, family and friends, and every stranger fairly met.


There is a real split rock on Split Rock Road and we still drive past it almost every day—a rough plug of granite, cracked open long ago by time or skill (or a little of both) to reveal an unexpected smoothness within. That is the spirit of Split Rock.” – Split Rock Distilling


Today, we’re exploring Split Rock Organic Straight Bourbon. This whiskey’s mashbill is 60% corn, 20% wheat, 15% malted barley, and 5% rye. After distillation, it entered new, charred oak 30-gallon barrels at 125° and rested for over three years. It is certified organic and packaged at 44% ABV (88°). Per Split Rock’s website, a 750ml bottle has a suggested price of $60.14.


How does this Bourbon taste? You know the answer; we #DrinkCurious. But before we get there, I must thank Split Rock Distilling for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. For the record, this is Bottle 540 from Batch 4.


Appearance: I poured Split Rock’s Organic Bourbon into my Glencairn glass to sip neat. It possessed a solid amber coloring. A thin-to-medium rim formed on the wall, yielding thick, syrupy tears.


Nose: When I brought the glass to my nostrils, the first thought that hit my mind was I was in a granary. The grains smelled fresh from the fields. Corn and wheat were easy to identify. While a considerably smaller ingredient, the rye stood out like rye bread. The barley’s aroma brought back memories of visiting a malting floor. At the tail end was hewn cedar. When I drew the air through my lips, I found floral rye and musty corn.  


Palate: The Bourbon’s mouthfeel was medium-bodied and slightly creamy. Corn, vanilla, and barley sat on the front of my palate. At the midpoint, I tasted dark-toasted rye bread. The back offered dry oak, clove, and tobacco.


Finish: The duration was unusual – initially, it was short. Yet, when I reached for a second sip, it came for an encore just as I parted my lips. I set the glass back down and observed how it lingered for several minutes. Apparently, the toasted rye bread, corn, tobacco, and dry oak weren’t quite ready to give up.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Several things were going on with Split Rock Organic Bourbon. There were telltale signs of sub-53-gallon containers with dry oak and cedar. Yet, it lacked the sawdust quality often encountered in those smaller barrels. The mash was fresh on the nose yet aged on the palate. The finish was in a league of its own. However, there was a lack of depth from front to finish.


I commend Split Rock Distilling for holding true to its roots and taking the time and energy to deliver a purely organic whiskey. That shows dedication and playing the long game versus just bottling someone else’s product while waiting for yours to age.


If I were to suggest changes, and I suppose I’m doing that very thing, it would be to utilize 53-gallon barrels and allow the whiskey more time to sleep. Split Rock Distilling already uses standard cooperage for other products. The proofing was fine.  


Split Rock Organic Bourbon has potential. Its distribution is limited; you should try this if you’re in the area. For my money, it earns a Bar rating. Meanwhile, I’d love to see what comes down the road from Topher and Matt because they show great potential. 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.