|Varietal||Virginia Straight Bourbon|
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Virginia-based Ragged Branch is a craft distillery that makes bourbon and lots of it: The Ragged Branch Wheated Virginia has five different bourbon expressions and one rye all produced in-house and aged for at least four years (though no formal age statements appear on its bottles). Aside from that, there is limited available information about Ragged Branch’s production (such as barrel size), but a little Googling turns up some mash bill information, at least.
Vanilla And Caramel With Strong Cinnamon On The Front. The Flavors of Ragged Branch Wheated Virginia Build On The Tongue, Hitting All The Taste Buds, Finishing Long, Leaving A Craving For Another Taste. After Adding A Spoonful Of Water, The Nose Opens The Oaky Cinnamon Aroma, Bringing Out A Very Pleasant Almond Vanilla, Finishing Smoothly With A Fresh Taste Of Cinnamon.
On the nose, this wheated bourbon presents very grainily, with a bready/doughy character of fresh bread, complemented by a ribbon of vanilla bean and backbone of caramelized sugar. It reminds one perhaps of cream of wheat, or a bowl of Cheerios—positively “yeasty,” if you will.
On the palate, however, the bourbon begins to open up past its inherent doughy-ness. Sweet cornbread and honey notes mesh well with light caramel and black pepper spice. It’s a bourbon on the sweeter side, but it stops well short of cloying, with a well-incorporated, moderate alcohol heat. Probing deeper, I get hints of apple fruitiness, grass, and floral notes a profile that, along with the honey note, almost reminds me of what you often see in the increasingly popular “American single malt” style.
Ragged Branch started distilling bourbon in 2014 under the tutelage of the late Dave Pickerell. One of Pickerell’s suggestions was to mature some of the first batches of bourbon in 25-gallon barrels to age it faster and enable it to get to market a little after 2 years.