Last time I looked at a Woodinville product (also my introduction to the brand), I remarked that it had the makings of something different and interesting. As with most distilleries, Woodinville have more to their name than just a standard bourbon. The only downside is that these other expressions are largely absent in my area, which isn’t too surprising, given Woodinville are a craft brand. Among these bottlings are high-proof single barrel picks, with today’s review focusing on one that comes in at 120 proof.
According to David at Whiskey Row, this is one of six variants of Woodinville picks for North Carolina, based on flavor profile. This is also the last of four samples David was kind enough to send my way after expressing interest in trying his biggest whiskey purchase regrets. Will this Woodinville pick end up closer to Little Book Chapter 4 (which I rather enjoyed) or Hudson Baby Bourbon (which I barely remember)? Let’s find out.
Nose: Heavy baking spices. Brown sugar and spiced nuts. Nutmeg, some pepper, and a seasoned oak personality throughout. Allspice and red pepper flakes. Traces of dried fruit, including seasoned raisins. Post-sip brings out a vanilla spice and chai quality. Brown sugar and cinnamon-covered marshmallows toasted over a campfire.
Palate: Peppery. Moderately aged, heavily seasoned oak—think black pepper, red/chili pepper flakes, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Feels like it wants to jump straight into the finish. Some clove and anise to boot with the peppery backbone.
Finish: Warming baking spices. Pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and clove abound again. Some currents of sweetness eventually arise, including caramel, cherry, and orange spice.
This baby ain’t for the faint of heart. “Big, loud, and bold” are the words that come to mind when sipping, so much so that I strongly encourage adding water to a pour of this. I say this as someone who’s a borderline purist when it comes to his tea (unsweet, please) and whiskey.
On one hand, I do appreciate the no-holds-barred, seasoned oak aspect of this pick, but that’s also why I find it overblown. The standard Woodinville bourbon had a level of sweetness to counteract the dry, spice and soda-like personality it seemed to ooze. This, by comparison, feels like it wants to inundate you with those spices and seasonings, which it succeeds with flying colors. I feel like even fellow high-proof whiskey fans will scratch their heads a bit with this one. All this isn’t to say that I dislike David’s Woodinville pick, but rather that it’s a difficult bottling to recommend. It’s like the FEW American Whiskey all over again, just one brings an herbal, slightly metallic and smoky profile out while the other is like a distilled spice cabinet. I’ve been giving out a lot of Penseur Pour verdicts lately, but these two make others seem pedestrian, by comparison.