Showing posts with label Limestone Branch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Limestone Branch. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2023

Yellowstone's Inaugural American Single Malt Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

One of the hottest whiskey categories in the United States is American Single Malt. It has been around for several years but has not been legally defined. That’s coming very soon, as the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC), representing almost 100 distilleries, has submitted its proposal to the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for consideration.


I’ve been on an American Single Malt kick for the last few years. There are some stunning examples on the market, and if you think this is just a me-too copy of Scotch or Irish whiskeys, you’d be wrong. American Single Malts are distant cousins to those styles. The main similarity, naturally, is the use of malted barley.


Limestone Branch Distillery out of Lebanon, Kentucky, has just introduced its first American Single Malt to the marketplace under its Yellowstone brand. One of the cool things Yellowstone does is donate a portion of its proceeds to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).


I’m proud of the success Yellowstone Select Bourbon has enjoyed since 2015 when I introduced my take on my family’s historic brand, and I’m proud to once again continue my family’s tradition of innovation with the launch of Yellowstone American Single Malt. This is a brand-new category of American whiskey, and our offering is sure to become a favorite among Yellowstone Bourbon fans and fans of American Single Malt Whiskeys alike.” – Stephen Beam, Master Distiller


Yellowstone’s American Single Malt is distilled from 100% two- and six-row malted barleys from MGP. The distillate is then aged four years in new, charred 53-gallon oak barrels. It is bottled at 54% ABV (108°) and should start showing up on store shelves this month. Expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml package.


Unlike those European cousins, my experience is that four years is plenty of time for an American Single Malt to mature fully; they age faster than either Bourbon or American Rye.


When this whiskey showed up, I did an unboxing video, which you can view below:

Before cracking this bottle open, I must thank Limestone Branch for providing me with a sample of its inaugural American Single Malt Whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, let’s #DrinkCurious.


Appearance: I sipped this single malt neat in my Glencairn glass. It presented as bronze with a medium-thin rim. Slow, tiny tears were released.


Nose: The first thing I smelled was Honey Nut Cheerios. A floral bouquet was evident, along with lighter tannins. When I inhaled through my lips, I encountered honeysuckle.


Palate: The mouthfeel was medium weighted and a bit oily. A fruity front consisted of pear, apple, and raw honey. Midway through, I tasted cherry, raspberry, and apricot. The back featured clove, nutmeg, and oak.


Finish: Substantially dry oak, along with clove, nutmeg, apricot, and raspberry, stuck around for a long-lasting finish.  


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Yellowstone’s American Single Malt is a stand-out and different from many other American Single Malts I’ve sampled. The fruity notes dominated, much like a Speyside Scotch, but it had a muted maltiness. It was proofed perfectly. I found myself returning to it over the next few days. At $54.99, this is almost a steal, and I’m thrilled to have this in my Whiskey Library. Yellowstone has set the bar high regarding this year’s crop of American Single Malts, and I have no qualms about crowning it with 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 do so responsibly.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Yellowstone 2022 Limited Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Barrel finishing is nothing new. If you’re not familiar 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 could have 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 of the 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. If it weren’t good, that would come through to the whiskey in the finishing process.


Today’s review is the 2022 Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon. Limestone Branch Distillery, under the guidance of Stephen Beam (yes, those Beams), has been producing a Limited Edition since 2015. Each annual release is something different. The 2022 is a blend of 7-year, 15-year, and 16-year Bourbons.


The 7-year Bourbons were finished in Marsala Superiore casks. Marsala is a sweet Italian fortified dessert wine aged at least two years. It is commonly used in cooking due to its dried fruit and citrusy flavors. Once the finishing process was complete, that whiskey was blended with the older ones.


The result is 10,000 three-bottle cases of 101° Bourbon that will be available around the United States in September. The suggested retail price is $99.99, which has held steady for several years.


The big question, of course, is, Is this Bourbon any good? And the answer to that can only be found if we #DrinkCurious. I must thank Limestone Branch for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat, this Bourbon presented as a deep, dark, orange amber. A medium rim yielded thick, slow legs on the wall of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: The Marsala influence was evident. Sweet, fruity notes of apricot, orange, and raisin combined with Bit O’Honey candy. Surprisingly, there was no oak. Inhaling that through my lips led me to taste lemon and orange zests.


Palate:  An oil slick coated my mouth. Brown sugar, date, and apricot caressed the front of my palate, while vanilla, almond, and tobacco created the middle. The back featured leather, English toffee, and golden raisin. Again, no oak notes.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish consisted of leather, tobacco, nutmeg, and, finally, dry oak.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve been impressed with many of the previous Yellowstone Limited Editions, but 2022 is my favorite. The Beam boys did something magical here. You’d be foolish to pass this one up; it is easily worth a c-note, and I’m left wishing I had a full-sized Bottle. 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 do so responsibly.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Yellowstone Family Recipe 6-Year Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Limestone Branch Distillery has been slowly coming into its own. Brothers Stephen and Paul Beam are seventh-generation descendants of the renowned Jacob Beam. In 2010, the brothers decided to write their own story, and a year later, they broke ground on the distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky. In 2012, they fired up the still and got to business.


These Beams are known for producing whiskey brands Minor Case and Yellowstone.  Those started with sourced whiskeys, but now its distillate is ready to rock and roll. It is always exciting to see (and taste) what happens when a distillery releases its own, but what’s even more fascinating is when something special happens.


Here’s where we get into a backstory, and if you’ve been reading my reviews for any time, you know that I take most of them with a large spoonful of salt. Especially when you discover your great grandpappy's recipe hidden behind a cabinet. That’s kinda-sorta but not precisely what’s happened with the Beams.


In this instance, their grandfather, Guy Beam, kept a notebook with recipes. That doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Stephen and Paul located a yeast jug belonging to their great-grandfather, Minor Case Beam. They took the DNA from that yeast and cloned it. That yeast compounded with the recipe is what the Beams describe as the original 1880s mashbill for Yellowstone Bourbon.


Limestone Branch has just released Yellowstone Family Recipe, a limited-edition annual release of this Bourbon. The mashbill is undisclosed, but it aged six years in new, charred oak. It is packaged at 100°, and there will be only 6000 bottles available in a slow rollout. The retail price is $69.99.


Wyoming and Montana get this allocation first about right now (April). If you’re left scratching your head why the Beams would choose Wyoming and Montana for a launch, that is to honor the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park. Shortly after that, the distillery in Lebanon and select Kentucky retailers will get the next rollout. A nationwide rollout will occur in August, with a second in the fourth quarter of 2022.


Thanks to Limestone Branch, I’ve had a preview sample of this Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and see how the Beams did.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Yellowstone Family Recipe presented as a deep, orange-amber. A medium-thick rim unleashed full, thick tears.


Nose: The first aroma to hit my olfactory sense was spiced nuts. A blast of caramel was next, followed by dense oak and vanilla cream. Tobacco and nougat were easily identifiable when I brought that air into my mouth.


Palate:  There was what I could describe only as a “reverse Kentucky hug” that started boldly and fell off almost immediately, leaving an airy texture. On the front, I tasted lime, hazelnut, and vanilla. The middle offered nougat, almond, and sweet tobacco, while the back featured oak, clove, and black pepper.


Finish:  The medium-to-long finish was spicy with dry oak, lime, clove, pepper, and almond.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I will give the Brothers Beam credit; Yellowstone Family Recipe is unusual in a good way. Something reminded me of Jim Beam Repeal Batch, and because of that, I poured myself a dram of that immediately afterward. There are some similarities, particularly in the mouthfeel and the nutty flavors, but nothing else. So, did I enjoy Yellowstone Family Recipe? Yes. Is it worth $69.99? Also, yes. I don’t know that I would play the secondary market game with it, but it has earned by Bottle rating for its stated price. 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 do so responsibly.



Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Yellowstone Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


If you're not familiar with Limestone Branch Distillery, don’t worry. It is a small Kentucky distillery known for Yellowstone Bourbon, Minor Case Rye, and Bowling & Burch Gin. What isn’t small, however, is its lineage.


Beams founded Limestone Branch. Yes, those Beams. Brothers Stephen and Paul are seventh-generation descendants from the renowned Jacob Beam. In 2010, the brothers decided to write their own story, and a year later, they broke ground on the distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky. In 2012, they fired up the still and got to business.


Yellowstone Bourbon, however, predates Stephen and Paul. In the 1880s, J.D. Dant, D.H. Taylor, and J.T. Williams founded the Yellowstone Distillery. Glenmore then purchased it in 1944, and then, in the 1990s, Diageo (then UDV) took ownership and shut it down. UDV sold the rights to Yellowstone and Ezra Brooks to David Sherman, the co-founder of Luxco. Luxco and Limestone Branch partnered in 2015 to resurrect the Yellowstone label.


The Yellowstone Bourbon brand is philanthropic, and by purchasing a bottle, you’re indirectly helping out our national parks:


“Yellowstone Kentucky straight bourbon borrows its moniker from America’s very first national park. In 1872, Yellowstone bourbon was crafted to honor the park’s sprawling historic wonder and pioneering spirit. Here’s hoping you enjoy drinking our national treasure as much we enjoyed distilling it.

To further do our part, we are donating a portion of Yellowstone bourbon proceeds to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to nurturing our country’s national parks for future generations.” – Limestone Branch


Yellowstone Select is sourced from an undisclosed distillery (yet, its 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley is the same as Jim Beam – feel free to draw your own conclusions) and carries no age statement. However, the Beams explain they’ve selected barrels between four and seven years for the blend. It is widely available, and a 93°, 750ml package has a suggested $39.99 price.


Limestone Branch graciously provided a sample of Yellowstone Select in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. And, the way that happens is for me to #DrinkCurious.


Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Yellowstone Select was the color of raw honey. A thicker rim created slow legs in no rush to rejoin the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: The unmistakable aroma of corn led the charge. That was accompanied by marshmallows, toffee, nutmeg, and oak. There was nothing complicated about it, and it meshed well. When I pulled the air past my lips, the marshmallow dominated.


Palate:  The mouthfeel had the consistency of water. The front of my palate picked out corn, light cinnamon, and peanuts, whereas the middle had vanilla, almond, and rye spice. Flavors of oak, toffee, and old leather formed the back.


Finish:  The finish was long-lasting, and, in fact, the more I sipped, the longer it grew. Old leather strung with rye spice, dry oak, and peanuts rounded things out.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Yellowstone Select is a simple Bourbon overall. That’s not to suggest it isn’t tasty because it is. Things flow just as you expect them to, from nose to palate to finish. It is an easy sipper, would likely make a good cocktail base, and is enjoyable overall. I’m happy to have this one in my whiskey library, and I believe you will as well. As such, it earned by Bottle rating. Cheers!


Epilogue:  Celebrating the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, Limestone Branch has printed some limited-edition labels for Yellowstone Select Landmark Edition series.




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 do so responsibly.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Yellowstone 2020 Limited Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Fall is what's generally thought to be the time when special release Bourbons come out. That's the perception, but in reality, these limited editions are released all year long - it just depends on what you're after.

Since 2017, I've been reviewing the annual release of Yellowstone Limited Edition. Sourced by Limestone Branch, brothers Steve and Paul Beam do unique things with what they have.  For 2020, they've done something that, if not unique, is at least very unusual. They took a seven-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon and finished it in Armagnac casks. 

Armagnac is my favorite brandy, although it is considered by some to be Cognac's ugly stepsister. Both have to be completely made in their respective regions of France. The varietals differ. Cognac must contain at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard grapes. Armagnac is made from Baco 22, Colombard, Old Blanche, and Ugni Blanc varieties. Cognac is made on a pot still, Armagnac on a column. Cognac has a lighter nose and is thought to be less flavorful than Armagnac.

According to Steve Beam:

Armagnac is a rustic, full-bodied spirit that contributes dark fruit notes, complimenting the vanilla notes in the Bourbon. Just like a chef adds spices to enhance flavors, I believe cask-finishing should be similar, where it simply enhances the natural flavor in the Bourbon.

There is no transparency as it pertains to whose distillate this is, but Luxco (Limestone Branch's parent company) has a long-standing relationship with Heaven Hill. As such, you can draw your own conclusions. Like the previous Limited Edition releases, this one weighs in at 101° and costs $99.99.  It is important to note that, unlike other annual releases from distilleries, Limestone Branch has held this price for several years.  There are a total of 5000 cases, and for a change of pace, this Yellowstone comes in a different, more eye-catching bottle.

Before I get to the review, I'd like to thank Luxco for providing me a sample of its 2020 release in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, this Yellowstone presented as true, unadulterated amber. It created a thin rim but fat, heavy legs that raced back to the pool.

Nose:  Aromas of sweeter fruits started things off. Atypical of the kind I normally find, these come from the melon genre: honeydew and canteloupe. Vanilla bean and chocolate were next, followed by a touch of sweet berry. When I breathed the vapor through my lips, the honeydew stood out.

Palate:  Offering a substantial body, things commenced with a blast. Vanilla from the Bourbon was first and took up the entire front of my palate. Mid-palate, dried cherry, raisin, and prunes made me forget entirely about the vanilla. Then, on the back, the fruit changed to citrus peel mixed with very dry, French oak. 

Finish:  The mid-palate fruits returned for a second appearance and spotlighted the Armagnac influence. Cocoa powder, coconut, and French oak stuck around for an enduring finish that ran for several minutes. There was also a tingling sensation left behind on the hard palate.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I enjoy Cognac-finished Bourbons and was damned curious what Armagnac would do for one. Now I have that answer. If the Yellowstone 2020 Limited Edition is any indicator, this is something other brands should pay attention to. The Brothers Beam did something lovely here, and this earns my Bottle rating. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Yellowstone 2019 Limited Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Luxco, the parent company of both Limestone Branch and Lux Row Distillers, has been on a good run in 2019. They've released several limited-edition whiskeys that have proven very interesting. Limestone Branch is headed by brothers Stephen and Paul Beam, descendants of JW Dant, the original distiller of the Yellowstone brand. Limestone Branch is doing its own distilling now but still relies on sourced whiskeys for its portfolio.

I've reviewed the 2017 and 2018 Yellowstone Limited Editions. I was not overly impressed with the 2017 LE and rated it a Bar.  The 2018 LE blew me away and it took that coveted Bottle rating. When Luxco sent me a sample of the 2019 LE, I have to admit I was excited.

The 2019 version is a blend of 9- and 12-year Bourbons.  One could assume, based upon Luxco's historical reliance on Heaven Hill for sourcing whiskey, that these Bourbons come from the same source.  The 2018 version had some of Limestone's distillate, but none of what they have is old enough to make this bottling.  That's definitely a curiosity, but I digress.  Limestone Branch produced 12,500 101° bottles with a retail price of $99.99.  Because we don't have a firm grasp on the distiller, the mashbill is unknown but must, by law, be at least 51% corn. I suspect rye and, obviously, malted barley.

I want to thank Luxco for sending me this sample of Bourbon for a no-holds-barred, honest review. And now, let's get to it.

In my Glencairn, Yellowstone appears as a brassy chestnut amber.  It left a very thin rim and thicker, fast legs that dropped down the wall and into the pool of liquid sunshine.

The most obvious aromas were brown sugar and cinnamon toast.  Think of the cereal Cinnamon Toast Crunch and that pretty much nails it. Underneath those was a blend of citrus, light oak, and cocoa.  This was almost like sitting down for breakfast.  When I inhaled through my lips, there was heavy, dark fruit and vanilla.

The initial sip was thin, oily and coating, and the first flavor to hit me was plum. As the liquid worked its way across my palate, I discovered a lovely combination of dark chocolate and thick caramel. Then, way at the back, a mix of oak and cocoa led to a finish of white pepper, dry oak, and dark chocolate.  That finish was lasting and warmed my throat.

Bottle, Bar or Bust:  There is so much going on with this year's release and it is very well-balanced. Flavors seem to naturally blend with one another as they worked across the palate. Everything seemed to go right and I can't think of a negative unless I wanted to whine about the c-note pricetag. But, we're at the point in Bourbon and Rye where that is becoming less and less unusual.  Like 2018, the 2019 Yellowstone LE is going to snap up that Bottle rating.  Cheers!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Minor Case Rye Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

What's a Minor Case?  No, that's not the opposite of a Major Case!  Minor Case Beam was an actual person, part of the Beam family. His motto was Craft only the finest whiskey. Unfortunately, Minor Case Beam was put out of business thanks to that horrible American experiment called Prohibition. From everything I can gather, Minor Case's son Guy S. Beam distilled, then it skipped a generation until Paul and Steve Beam came around over at Limestone Branch

Minor Case Straight Rye Whiskey is produced by Limestone Branch. This one is actually distilled by the folks at MGP. It utilizes a mash of 51% rye, 45% corn, and 4% barley. It is aged two years, then allowed to finish in ex-Sherry casks from Meier's Winery. Minor Case is non-chill filtered and bottled at 90°. Suggested retail is $50, which is about average for "craft" whiskey brands. 

The bottle is drop-dead gorgeous. The lettering is debossed, then painted white so it really jumps out at you. It has a very rich, premium look and feel. Packaging can be pretty or ugly, but all that matters to me is the whiskey inside. I'd like to thank Luxco for providing me a sample of Minor Case Straight Rye in exchange for a no-holds-barred, honest review. As such, it is time to #DrinkCurious.

In my Glencairn glass, the appearance was a light amber, and, in fact, looked young. It left a thin rim on my glass, which led to a heavy, wavy curtain that dropped back to the pool of liquid sunshine.

Aromas of cinnamon spice and floral rye filled my nostrils. Underneath those were bright, fruity notes, most likely from the sherry, along with an interesting touch of butterscotch. When I inhaled through my mouth, I picked up additional floral notes.

The mouthfeel was thin, light, and airy.  Immediately up front, I tasted a combination of raisins and brown sugar. At mid-palate, the sherry became evident, along with dark chocolate, most likely from the malted barley, but I was shocked how strong it was considering the very low barley content. On the back, it was a marriage of citrus and rye spiciness.

The finish was soft, and chocolatey, with cherries and dry oak. It was delicate but long-lasting, and something that almost begged for another sip.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Thankfully, the youngish appearance was the worst thing about Minor Case Rye. There was a lot going on with this whiskey, it is interestingly complex and offers some surprises. I would have assumed heavier fruitiness due to the sherry finish but was pleasantly impressed by the heavier chocolate notes, especially in the finish. 

While the price for this two-year may shy you away, it is on par with other "craft" whiskeys you'll find on the shelf. Minor Case isn't another Me Too whiskey that could get lost in a sea of other similarly priced whiskeys. When you consider what Minor Case has to offer, I believe you'll agree this one earns a Bottle rating. Cheers!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Yellowstone 2018 Limited Edition Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Last year, I reviewed Yellowstone 2017 Limited Edition Bourbon. I came to the conclusion that it was enjoyable, but didn’t believe it was worth buying at $99.99. Recently, Limestone Branch Distillery sent me the 2018 version, and I’m grateful they were agreeable to send this with, as always, no strings attached.

Yellowstone 2018 is billed as their “third and final” barrel finishing experiment. It is a blend of Bourbons ranging from between four and twelve years and then finished in #3 char wine casks. Some of the Bourbon does include Limestone’s own distillate. The wine casks are the same as the ones used in the 2016 and 2017 Limited Editions, this time with a much deeper char.

There are approximately 12,000 101° bottles available for release, and the suggested retail is the same as last year: $99.99. The big question in my mind is, is this year’s release worth the price? Time to #DrinkCurious and find out...

In the glass, this liquid sunshine was a deep, dark, almost reddish amber. It produced an ultra-thin rim but created fat, thick legs that dropped back down to the pool. The rim itself remained on the wall of the Glencairn long afterward.

At chin level, the only aroma I picked up was thick, rich caramel. When I raised the glass to lip level, the caramel gave way to cinnamon and vanilla. Just under my nostrils, there was a hint of fruitiness, possibly from the wine, and the caramel returned. When I inhaled through my mouth, it was all crème brulée. Overall, the nose could best be described as “luxurious.”

The mouthfeel was thicker than I expected and coated everywhere. There was also a lot going on with the palate. At the front, there was a much lighter caramel than the nose suggested. The wine cask immediately became a big deal. Without knowing what varietal of wine was used, I’d hazard a guess at either Cabernet or Bordeaux. At mid-palate, the caramel was more obvious, and was joined by brown sugar and barrel char. Finally, vanilla started to shine through.

At 101°, I expected a hotter finish. That reminded me don't assume. Instead, the finish was creamy caramel and vanilla and never even hinted at a burn. I even tried forcing it by having it hit the back of my palate first, and while I got some smoky char, it didn’t warm my throat.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I very much enjoyed this year’s release, it completely eclipsed last year’s, and the comparison isn’t even close. But, we’re back at the question of, “Is this worth $100?” Bourbon inflation is up this year. If I were to blind taste this, I’d guess somewhere in the $70-$80 range. I’m much closer to the $100 price tag than I was for 2017. For those of you skittish at dropping $100 for Bourbon, try it at a bar. I believe you’ll be convinced to grab a Bottle. I don’t believe you’d suffer from buyer’s remorse. Cheers!