What’s in a name? That’s just one of the numerous questions more discerning whiskey drinkers ask at one point or another. After all, a considerable chunk of whiskey brands out there are named after actual people: Jim Beam, Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Jefferson’s, etc. I used to consider naming a brand after a historical figure (major or minor) incredibly gimmicky; now I only find it occasionally gimmicky. Case in point: Hirsch, named after Adolph Hirsch, who distilled for a while in Pennsylvania before going bankrupt. His whiskey was never actually bottled until Julian Van Winkle III got his hands on it. The end result was a 16-Year bottle that became the subject of The Best Bourbon You’ll Never Taste, written by Charles Cowdery.
What I’m looking at today bears the Hirsch name, but contains none of the prized whiskey. Instead, this bottling contains a blend of two MGP bourbons aged for 7 years. The company behind the brand? Hotaling & Co. (formerly Anchor Distilling), otherwise known for Old Potrero, Nikka, Ancnoc, and Writer’s Tears to name a few. Curiously, they no longer list this particular bottling on their site, instead displaying Hirsch The Horizon, which appears to be a blend of the same mash bills but aged for 5-6 years. Could this particular sample prove to be a little treasure? Let’s find out.
Nose: Easygoing. Light caramel, vanilla, and honey notes. Faint traces of fruit to include white grape, unripe cantaloupe, and orange. Whispers of wood and brown sugar. Somewhat reminiscent of Buffalo Trash mash bill #2. More honey, cantaloupe, and light vanilla after sipping.
Palate: Sweet and relaxed. Golden fruits, caramel, vanilla, and honey. Maybe a touch of peach to go with the cantaloupe. A bit of wood eventually creeps up.
Finish: Light and short. Impressions of wood and brown sugar. Fruity vanilla and honey residuals exist, but barely so.
What continuously came to mind with this whiskey was the number of synonyms I could think up for “light” and “easygoing.” This is a truly effortless dram, one that I imagine the Basil Hayden crowd would be fond of. And as per my notes, this reminds me of Buffalo Trace mash bill #2, right down to the surprising lack of spice, given the high rye content. If people buy Blanton’s because it’s “so smooth,” then they slept on this.
So am I a fan? Sure, in the same way that I’m a fan of Novembers Doom, Dark the Suns, and Omnium Gatherum (for my fellow metalheads). They’re perfectly enjoyable bands and, on the right day, may do just the trick for giving my ears a quick fix. Yet that’s about as far as they go. Most of the time I crave more substance, and when asked to name favorites that I can reliably turn to time and time again, the list won’t include the aforementioned bands (or Hirsch).