Whiskey Review: Treaty Oak Day Drinker Texas Bourbon

Treaty Oak’s Day Drinker Bourbon has me feeing a bit… called out? The seemingly never-ending pandemic has made it such that day drinking and smoking cigars in the backyard is just about the most excitement I get these days. Naturally, such an aptly titled bourbon piqued my interest and made me wonder if it truly would be the perfect day drinking companion. Only one way to find out.


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History

The fourth oldest distillery currently operating in Texas, Treaty Oak Distillery was opened in 2006 by Daniel Barnes. Born in West Texas and a sommelier by trade, Barnes and his co-founder / father-in-law Bruce Graham decided (over a glass or two of whiskey) to open a distillery in the Austin, Texas area.

Named after the infamous oak tree under which Stephen Austin signed the document detailing the borders of the Republic of Texas, the distillery was founded just south of the city of Austin in Dripping Springs. Like many other craft distilleries, the Treaty Oak Distillery started with spirits that didn’t require aging like rum and gin, but they recently expanded their facility to allow for the production of aged spirits.

Treaty Oak says that they try to emphasize locally sourced ingredients, including the grain and citrus used in their spirits.

Product

This is a Certified Texas Whiskey, which means that the contents of this bottle were 100% distilled and aged in the state of Texas.

It starts with a grain bill consisting of 57% yellow no. 1 corn, 32% Texas wheat, and 11% barley. Most bourbons these days seem to prefer using rye to make up a significant portion of the grains, but there’s also a strong trend at the moment for wheated bourbons like this one.

The grains are cooked and fermented on-site before being added to the distillery’s column still for distillation. That raw whiskey is then placed into new charred oak barrels (with a #3 medium char) for a minimum of one year to age before being filtered and bottled.

Packaging

It looks like the distillery has changed their bottles up a bit since the last time we tried their spirits, and I’m not mad about it.

The bottle has the same general shape as it did before, with a rectangular body and a short neck. The difference here is that the edges and corners have been significantly rounded, and instead of a cork there’s a metal screw-on top to the bottle. The overall effect is that this seems to evoke a 1950’s mid-century-retro aesthetic.

The label is mostly the same as it was before, which just means still really well designed. Their labels have always been a near-perfect combination of minimalist functionality and visually appealing design. In this case, I like the light blue color they use, I still love the triangular shape of the label, and I still appreciate that there’s a design on the inside of the label as well. I don’t particularly like how big the label is, as it covers a significant portion of the bottle and obscures the whiskey, but given how it ticks essentially every other box… I can forgive that.

Neat

Right out of the bottle, this smells great. There’s some good solid caramel and vanilla notes in there, but that high wheat content combined with the malted barley adds a smooth and velvety quality to the aroma that’s really appealing. There is also a bit of fruitiness, something like a bit of banana or some light apple flavor in there.

Those aromas carry over nicely into the flavor itself. The first thing I get is a bit of brown sugar and vanilla, some toffee caramel, and then followed closely by an interesting hit of peppermint that I didn’t expect. It seems to make things a little brighter, but also adds a touch of bitterness that develops into more of a standard charred oak flavor for the finish.

On Ice

On the day I’m writing this review, there’s an ice storm raging in Austin. The freezing temperatures and the treacherous ice are causing chaos with massive power and water outages. Much like how ice normally causes chaos in a whiskey — killing the lighter flavors and toning down the more brash aspects.

That’s going on here as well, to some extent. The more exotic flavors are pretty much gone, with the caramel and vanilla withstanding the ice along with a good hint of that darker charred oak aspect. It’s absolutely still a drinkable spirit on its own in this format, and there should be enough flavor for cocktails to come. But it’s just not as outstanding as it was on its own.

Old Fashioned

This is pretty darn good, actually.

What we have is on the lighter side of an old fashioned, for sure. But it’s still absolutely delicious and drinkable. The caramel and vanilla sweetness do a good job balancing with the bitterness of the bitters, and the other herbal flavors do make themselves known — and they have plenty of room to play around and make for a much more complex experience.

This won’t rock your socks off, but it’ll absolutely do the trick.

Mule

I think wheated bourbons are at a disadvantage here. Usually, in a mule, the addition of some rye to the grain bill adds a bit of a black pepper kick that makes this a particularly delicious cocktail. But with the wheat instead, this is just a decent Moscow mule with a bit more flavor.

There absolutely is something good going on here — there’s a solid flavor balance between the ginger beer and the caramel / vanilla flavors, but it’s a very one note and flat cocktail. Probably not something I’d do again in the future.


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Overall Rating

I really enjoy this bourbon neat and its not bad on ice or in an old fashioned, but it falls short in the mule. That’s not saying it’s a bad whiskey, just that it doesn’t work in that particular presentation.

This is something that absolutely works well as a day drinking, sipping whiskey — something that isn’t as dark and rich as other bourbons but still has some interesting and delicious flavors. It’s a smooth wheated version of bourbon, perfect for those midday whiskey breaks without overwhelming your palate or knocking you out to go find a big comfy leather chair for a while.

The only (pretty minor) problem I can see is that, at this price point and with the other competition in the market, it may not particularly stand out to consumers beyond the Certified Texas Whiskey appeal. That said, it is definitely worth the money to try.

Treaty Oak Day Drinker Texas Bourbon
Produced By: Treaty Oak
Production Location: Texas, United States
Classification: Bourbon Whiskey
Special Type: Certified Texas Whiskey
Aging: 1 Year
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $22 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 3/5
I’ll be day drinking this all weekend long.


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