Bull Run is an American craft distillery in the Pacific Northwest based in the Portland, Oregon area. Their focus on distilling 100% American malt whiskey comes from the mind of their founder and lead distiller Lee Medoff, who started his foray into the spirits world as a brewer over two decades ago and started Bull Run Distillery in the year 2010. They source their beer and grain all locally and age their malted whiskey in brand new charred oak barrels - a departure from Scotch aging techniques which uses primarily used barrels.
However in the lead up to the release of their own malted distillate they sourced a series of barrels from various distilleries in what they called their ‘Merchant Bottling Series’ which includes both American whiskey and bourbon and variances of both with different finishes. Which leads us to today’s tasting!
This is their finished American whiskey. This is listed as ‘distilled in Indiana’ (MGP) and is a corn whiskey using a mash of 96% corn and 4% malted barley. This particular bottle was a store selected barrel from Off Premise in Chicago, IL. What’s interesting is that the age stated label says ‘Aged 13 Years’ however it also lists the finishing time of 28 months on that label and it’s hard to say if the age statement is an aggregate of both or if it’s 13 year whiskey which is then aged and ADDITIONAL 28 months in the wine barrels. Some asking around at the store leads me to believe the 13 is TOTAL aging - including finishing. Either way we have a 10+ year whiskey with a long finish…should be an interesting sip. Let’s go!
BULL RUN - AMERICAN WHISKEY (Finished in Pinot Noir Barrels) OFF PREMISE Pick.
- 11 year MGP Corn whiskey aged in used barrels
- 96% Corn, 4% malted barley
- Finished for 28 months in pinot noir barrels
- Wine barrels from Trisaetum Winery
- 123.7 proof/61.85% ABV
NOSE: Sweet grapes and brown sugar waft at you first. The ethanol off the proof shows it’s face but doesn’t scream at you…but you definitely know it’s there. Light champaign notes pop in on subsequent sniffs.
PALATE: Fruity vanilla spice bomb! Despite the age this one hits the palate pretty hard even on a small sip. It’s pleasant but it absolutely packs a punch. This is another one where some water helps immensely - and once more, I’m usually not a person who cares to add any water to my spirit. Water brings out more grape and cherry flavors, as well as an almost sticky toffee note. Strong baking spices linger throughout and this one has a lasting finish that starts just behind your top teeth and works its way back to your throat drying along the way
and leaving some oak in its wake.
OVERALL: This is a fascinating pour. It packs a punch that absolutely requires a bit of taming via water but there is a depth of flavor here that is so enjoyable. Most straight corn whiskeys are one note to me but this with it’s age and the extra long finishing process make for a whiskey you’ll not only enjoy but want to talk about with your nerdier friends. It’s hot but put the time in and you’ll love it. All this and a price point of only $45 for a 13yr age stated product?? Just goes to show you in this market that it’s the name ‘bourbon’ that’s commanding hype like crazy…but whiskey in general is doing GREAT things in every category!