Milam & Greene doesn’t necessarily spring to mind when I think of barrel picks. Given the staff’s background, blending and batching would seem more up their alley. Yet as anyone who’s done a blind tasting can attest, whiskey and surprises (good or bad) can often go hand-in-hand. Case in point: Milam & Greene Single Barrel, more specifically the r/bourbon selection from last year. Unlike the brand’s more available Single Barrel, which helps comprise their core range, this was an age-stated option bottled at cask strength. The source for this 13-year barrel was confirmed to be Dickel. I passed on the opportunity to purchase a bottle, given the steep cost and general lack of experience with the Tullahoma distillery at the time. I was, however, able to procure a sample and try the selection for myself.
The mash bill doesn’t seem to be publicly disclosed, though I’d be surprised if it wasn’t made from the standard 84/8/8 Dickel.
Nose: Rich and balanced. The oak influence is sweet with nary a sign of tannins to find. Slight air of dustiness. Has a custard quality with brown sugar, caramel, and a sweetly floral component. A touch of effervescence in the background. Peanut butter and grape jelly over time. Nicely layered and appealing.
Palate: Dense but neither hot nor aggressive. Roasted walnuts and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies with a bit of jam mingling throughout. Oak tannins are present, but kept in check. Earthy tobacco on the back sets up the finish.
Finish: Fruity black tea, vanilla pound cake, and cream cheese frosting. Fairly lengthy with sweet yet mellow flavor closing out the experience in a delightful way.
In a word: elegant. There’s a harmony to this barrel that almost feels better than it has the right to be. It’s sweet without being saccharine and tannic while being neither bitter nor drying. The entire experience feels like a checked-off list for what a strong, premium whiskey should deliver. What’s more is this nudges me closer to being a Dickel fan, since they still have a fair amount of aged whiskey, be it in-house or with other brands. It’s enough to make me stop and drop my preconceived notions about the divisive Tennessee giant.
Needless to say, I quite enjoyed this sample. Of the r/bourbon barrels I’ve owned and tried, I can think of one that gives this any competition. I’ll even raise the stakes and say that this barely slips from its already impressive standing when compared to all the barrel selections I’ve tried. Should another well-aged Milam & Greene barrel pick end up on a future r/bourbon survey, you can guarantee I’ll mark myself as highly interested.