I’ve set a somewhat ambitious goal for myself: eventually sample at least one whiskey from every distillery in the great state of Texas. So today we’re making a trip up to Dallas, Texas to taste the signature bourbon from the Whitherspoon Distillery.
The Witherspoon Distillery was founded in 2012 by Natasha and Ryan DeHart. After a trip to Germany sparked their love of locally sourced craft spirits and beverages, they wanted to bring some of that local flavor to their hometown of Dallas, Texas.
The Witherspoon Distillery has recently re-branded in 2019 as the BENDT Distilling Co to match their new line of blended whiskey, on which they plan to focus their efforts moving forward.
There’s not a whole lot of detail about how this whiskey is produced.
According to some sources, the whiskey starts as a fermented mash of 75% corn with the remainder of the grain bill taken up by malted barley and rye. The specifics of that ratio is left to the drinker’s imagination, though.
Once fermented, the mash is distilled and placed into new charred oak barrels for a minimum of two years, as required for a “straight” bourbon whiskey. From there, it’s bottled and shipped out the door.
The bottle itself is pretty unremarkable. It’s a long thin boxy design with a squared shoulder and a short neck, more like a billboard than a bottle.
The label squarely hits my biggest complaint with whiskey bottles, in that it unnecessarily takes up the entire damn face of the bottle. There’s very little artistically going on here, it’s really just a silver star with some very big words around it. And the whole thing is done in a faux silver metallic label that is massive and leaves no room to actually see the whiskey inside the bottle.
In my opinion, you’re not selling a bottle — you’re selling the whiskey inside. So when the label completely obscures the whiskey and doesn’t let anyone see it, I get suspicious and I get annoyed.
Along the bottom is a black label that has the actual information about what’s inside. I like small labels like this — Iron Wolf does something very similar. (But their faux silver metallic label is significantly smaller and more appropriate to the bottle.)
As soon as you pour a bit in the glass you can smell the sweet and delicious aromas coming off the whiskey. It smells almost exactly like a granny smith apple that’s been dipped in caramel, like something you’d get at the county fair. The caramel and vanilla notes are pretty common for bourbon whiskey, but that crisp green apple note is new and interesting.
The good news here is that the taste delivers almost exactly on the promise of the aroma. It’s sweet without being overpowering, offers the same caramel and vanilla notes, but the crisp green apple is front and center the whole time. It’s smooth and delicious, significantly lighter than most straight bourbons, and I’m here for it.
After it’s all said and done, there’s some peppery spice that creeps in at the end and stays with you for a while. It’s pleasant, not at all overpowering, and much appreciated.
Usually with a bit of ice and water the more delicate flavors tend to drop out of a whiskey and only the bolder flavors remain. With this whiskey that holds true, and the green apple flavor is significantly reduced. It’s still there, just much much less prominent.
Instead, what we have is a more traditional straight bourbon whiskey flavor profile. There’s the caramel more prominently coming to the front and the vanilla flavors as well, but now there’s a bit of charring joining in and making it taste like burnt caramel.
I gotta admit, this might be the least favorite way of drinking this spirit. That burnt caramel is a little much without the crisp apple flavors to temper it. The good news is that the peppery spice is still present and prominent which bodes well for the other tests.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
Once the ice was added to the drink, the crisp and bright flavors dropped out of the whiskey and left just the darker and bolder flavors behind. The bitters and orange essence add those elements back into the mix and once more make it a well balanced and delicious drink.
That orange zest helps overcome the charred caramel flavor, once again making it bright and cheerful instead of the deep and dense flavor profile it had gained on ice. A little bit of sugar and the whole thing is pretty darn good, especially the peppery spice that adds yet another layer to the flavors.
There’s a couple things I’m looking for here: (1) the sweetness of the whiskey to balance out the bitterness of the ginger beer; (2) the peppery spice to come through the overpowering elements and still be noticeable; (3) for the flavor of the whiskey to compliment the whole cocktail.
In this case, they’ve nailed all three.
The big difference between this and other whiskies is that this is a much more fruit-forward take on the cocktail. That crisp apple is back, and as a result the whole thing is a lot closer to a sour apple Jolly Rancher than anything else. Not that I’m complaining — it’s my favorite Jolly Rancher. And this may be one of my favorite takes on a Kentucky Mule.
It’s a good whiskey with some sweet and delicious flavors. Lighter than you’d expect from a straight bourbon, but with some of that peppery rye spice that I do so enjoy. That said, there’s not a whole lot of depth here. What you see is what you get, and while that’s fine and admirable, it’s not really taking many chances. Which makes the bottle design even more disappointing… it’s a fine whiskey — show it off!
|Witherspoon Texas Straight Bourbon|
Produced By: WitherspoonOwned By: BENDT Distilling Co
Production Location: Texas, United States
Classification: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 50% ABV
Price: $38.92 / 750 ml
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Overall Rating: 3/5
A surface level bourbon without much depth… and that surface is covered with a massive sticker.