Four years ago, we reviewed the Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Bourbon as part of our first batch of reviews. We found it to be acceptable, but a little weak for our taste. It seems like the folks at Treaty Oak might have agreed with that sentiment, since their latest single barrel bourbon release ages about 50% longer and is bottled at a white hot 116 proof. So… how much better is it compared to the standard edition?
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 eventually 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.
- Learn More: What Is Bourbon Whiskey?
Made with locally produced grains and locally distilled in Dripping Springs, the Treaty Oak Ghost Hill Bourbon is named after the ranch on which the distillery is located.
As you would expect from a bourbon, 57% of the grain bill in this spirit comes from locally sourced Texas yellow corn. Of the remainder, 11% is a common and expected barley, but a surprisingly large proportion (32%) comes from Texas grown wheat. This is similar to the wheat-forward grain bill used in spirits like the famous Pappy Van Winkle. All of the grains are cooked, fermented, and distilled on-site in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Once distilled, the spirit is aged for two years and ten months in charred American white oak barrels that are manufactured in Louisville, Kentucky.
Normally, the distillery will blend multiple barrels together to get a consistent flavor profile, but this specific bottle comes from a single barrel. Specifically, barrel number 1908. It is presented at “cask strength” — meaning that what you’ve got in your glass is pretty much how it came out of the barrel, without any dilution.
The folks at Treaty Oak spared no expense when it comes to the packaging, and as a result this bottle really stands out on the shelf.
Starting with a squared off body, the bottle is tall and thin with straight walls. A sharp-yet-rounded shoulder transitions to a short, round neck. The bottle is topped with a screw-on plastic cap, which does make it feel a little bit cheap but also makes it very accessible.
The label is consistent with their other whiskey styles, sporting an angled aesthetic that (especially combined with the bottle shape) makes it hard to miss. I appreciate that the label is designed to allow a good bit of the beautifully colored spirit be visible, especially since the company logo is embossed on the back of the bottle and visible through the unobscured section.
I appreciate a good, well thought out design. And this definitely qualifies as such.
This spirit has a deep, rich color that is completely on par with the deep, rich aroma coming off the glass. I’m getting a lot of brown sugar in the aroma, along with a bit of a burned twinge (like you get coming off the top of a creme brulee), a little bit of black cherry, and some good orange citrus.
That depth and richness extends to the flavor as well, with the liquid having an oily and mouth-filling texture and those darker notes front and center. The flavor starts out with a bit of cedar wood, accompanied by some leather and tobacco. From there, a good bit of dark chocolate enters the mix together with a hint of black cherry that adds an interesting slightly fruity aspect. Thankfully, it never gets to the point of being medicinal which is where a lot of dark bourbons with this flavor profile tend to stray. At this point, a number of the more traditional bourbon flavors become apparent (specifically, some caramel and vanilla), before being joined by some charred sugar. That charred flavor lingers into the finish, alongside just a hint of orange.
Normally, the addition of some ice or cold water cause the intensity of the flavors to tone down significantly, but in this case the intensity remains. There are some minor changes, sure, but the flavors are still bold and beautiful.
The cedar and dark chocolate appear almost simultaneously up front, followed quickly by some caramel and vanilla. There’s still some charred brown sugar in there to keep things smoky and rich, but it isn’t as intense as before. On the finish, there’s still that flash of orange citrus but now it lingers a bit longer.
In short, all the bits and pieces are still there. Less black cherry and with slightly less intensity, but still well saturated.
I’m a huge fan of a dark, rich, smoky Old Fashioned. And that is precisely what you are getting here.
What’s most interesting is that the cedar note I picked up before seems to be boosted by the aromatics in the bitters, and creating this very wood-forward flavor in the drink. There’s plenty of other flavors going on to keep your taste buds entertained, but that is a particularly interesting interaction that I don’t often see. I also appreciate the dark chocolate adding a good bit of depth, and even the orange citrus adding some zest and life to the drink.
Usually, I’m a huge fan of that charred flavor coming through in cocktails and mixes, as it gives some depth and complexity to the drink. But in this case, I think the charred components actually might be a little too overpowering.
There’s plenty here to balance out the ginger beer, providing for a nice flavor profile. But that charred sugar flavor overshoots the mark, and is a little too loud for my tastes in the overall blend. I appreciate that there’s plenty going on in the background (the orange and black cherry flavors mixing with the ginger beer is a delicious and interesting combination) but the charred flavor keeps me from really enjoying it.
When we first reviewed Treaty Oak’s Ghost Hill Bourbon back in 2018, it was a little weak and didn’t quite have the bombastic flavor you’d expect in a strong Texas bourbon. This, on the other hand, is the perfect example of that same bourbon taken to its full potential.
The flavors in here are rich and delicious. Whether on it’s own or in a cocktail, this performs phenomenally. It admittedly isn’t at it’s best in a mule… but then again, I don’t really advise putting single barrel cask strength spirits in a glass with ginger beer.
|Treaty Oak Single Barrel Ghost Hill Texas Bourbon Whiskey|
Produced By: Treaty OakProduction Location: Texas, United States
Classification: Bourbon Whiskey
Special Type: Certified Texas Whiskey
Aging: 2.8 Years
Proof: 58% ABV
Price: $69.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A deep, rich, and delicious bourbon that is perfectly balanced on its own and just as good in an old fashioned.