Not long ago, I took a look at one of Jim Beam’s Signature Craft expressions from 2014. The one in question, Six Row Barley, ended up being a bit of a grower, but was ultimately a pour to appreciate rather than outright enjoy. Today’s expression is a bit different in premise. The word “triticale” says all you need to know about this whiskey: It’s a hybrid of rye and wheat (durum wheat in this case). Just like Six Row Barley and the other expressions in the Signature Craft line, this is aged 11 years and bottled at 90 proof. Let’s see what it has to offer.
Nose: Dry fruit and musty oak. Generous amount of molasses to go around with the stewed fruit, such as blackberries, raspberries, and orange. Has an air of dusty crop and grain, but not in a youthful way. Comes across as sherry-like. Darker brown sugar, vanilla, and some bright caramel round the experience out.
Palate: Sweetness upfront to include brown sugar, caramel, cherry, and vanilla. This is quickly followed by a burst of the stewed and dried fruits while more caramel unfolds on the mid-palate. On the back we get a surprisingly (for the proof) warm combination of wheat, oak, and rye. The spice levels are fairly mild.
Finish: Medium. Sweet oak, butterscotch, and a combination of dark and red fruits. Maybe some slightly burnt orange rind. Closes out with some waxiness on the roof of the mouth, like almond or walnut butter.
If you can’t tell, this is an intriguing and fairly complex pour. The vast majority of bourbons tend to have a limited range of flavors but, when aged, batched, and selected properly (among other numerous factors), they can knock those notes out of the park in a way that few drinks can. High-rye bourbons and rye whiskey in general also tends to bring more lively and vibrant characteristics to the table, so mixing that with wheat, which tends to be soft and yeasty, could go in any direction.
Triticale is a tough expression to pin down. It brings a lot to the table, to the point that it could easily stump most unsuspecting drinkers. If I was served this blind, I’d probably guess it was sherry-finished. I’d also have a tough time pinpointing the distiller, since I’m more acquainted with the modern Jim Beam nuttiness, whereas older bottlings I’ve tried seem to have more of a musty oak and fruit quality to them. Triticale lines up with the latter.
Based on my Grade and Value rating in the scoresheet, you probably think I’m a pretty big fan of this. B+ isn’t a grade you turn your nose up at, and for less than $25 I was able to get a respectable amount of bourbon that’s 11 years old, a limited bottling, AND prepared in an uncommon way. I would say I enjoyed this and found the bottle to be a worthwhile exploration into something more experimental. Like the Six Row Barley, Triticale is easy to appreciate. But how much did I enjoy it? Truth be told, if I found a large supply of these for the same price, I’d probably pass them up. I got what I wanted out of my one bottle and while I wasn’t personally a huge fan, I can easily see how some would find it delicious. I’d ultimately give it a fairly high recommendation all the same for anyone even mildly interested, provided the price is reasonable.