Ben Holladay Distillery is keen on putting Missouri on the map among bourbon fans. Their Bottled-in-Bond Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey launched those efforts via their own distillate, which was then aged and bottled in Weston (population under 2,000). Now, they’re on the market with their second expression: Another bottled-in-bond bourbon, this time with soft red winter wheat replacing rye in the mashbill. It’s a 73% corn, 15% wheat, 12% malted barley split which the producer implies makes for a softer and sweeter profile.
Holladay’s first wheated bourbon carries a noteworthy six year age statement, two years beyond what’s needed to qualify for the bottled-in-bond designation. Let’s see how the wheated mashbill and significant aging time treated this whiskey.
This certainly doesn’t smell like young whiskey! Baked apples and cinnamon lead on the nose, along with ripe pear and some darker fruit notes veering into fig territory. Smell again, and even sweeter notes come into the fray, along with rich butter and altogether fattier notes. It’s reminiscent of a freezer aisle cherry pie (properly reheated, of course), giving a sense that what you’re about to consume will be fruity and identifiable, if just a touch too decadent. There’s not much in the way of grainy notes, save for a tiny bit of corn pudding floating in the back of the nostrils. There’s virtually no ethanol kick, and I found myself spending long minutes with my nose plunged deep into the Glencairn.
At first sip, Holladay’s wheated bourbon is a sugar-coated fruit bonanza, like strawberries dipped in powdered sugar. The flavors build subtly, requiring a few sips to orient beyond that up-front sweetness. The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side and necessitates repeat sips to pick up on deeper flavors. (That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as this is a downright pleasant sipper.) Subsequent sips bring dark cacao and a dusting of crushed dark chocolate, which finally lends some tart balance and acidity to counteract the very sweet fruit. A small amount of fresh mint accents the midpalate, like a green sprig placed carefully on top of sweetened whipped cream.
The finish is where this bourbon’s age really shows itself, with welcome oaky and barrel notes like creme brulee and chicory. There’s also more spice here — chicory-infused coffee, perhaps? — far toward the back of the palate, eliciting a longer-than-expected finish given the viscosity.
Holladay’s first entry into wheated bourbon comes out swinging. While there’s some slight room for improvement, this release can hold its own against virtually any expression of similar age from Kentucky, Tennessee, or Indiana.
A- / $60 / holladaybourbon.com