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The Reservoir Bourbon Whiskey in Richmond, Virginia, uses a rather interesting mash bill for their bourbon – 100% corn. That’s it. They’ve given corn the stage to showcase what it can do all by itself, and they’ve come up with a cracking expression, which is aged in casks smaller than you would find at your average bourbon distillery, increasing surface area to distillate ratio.
Reservoir, furthermore, is unusual in that all their whiskies are single-grain mash bills. In other words, their Reservoir Bourbon Whiskey is 100 percent wheat; the rye, 100 percent rye; and the bourbon, 100 percent corn. I like that – it’s one thing. Keep it simple. If you collect all three, you can make whatever kind of mash bill you want, if you’re a blending type.
This is a two-year Bourbon that is aged in quarter casks. I had to be mindful of that when it looked at it in my Glencairn glass. The photo above has not been manipulated. That deep, dark mahogany in the picture is the same thing as what’s in my glass. I was shocked. I’ve seen plenty of small-barrel whiskeys before, and I don’t recall seeing anything this dark. It created a thicker rim which gave way to medium-thick legs that slowly fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
A fairly uncomplicated nose of corn, chocolate, and cherry pie filling was all I picked up. The hardest thing to identify was the latter. It wasn’t cherry, it wasn’t dried cherry. It was the stuff you get out of a can and use your fingers to scoop out every last bit. When I inhaled the vapor through my lips, I tasted vanilla.
Initially, the body started thin, but it became more vicious with additional sips. Despite the age, despite the 100% corn content, there was no ethanol punch. On the front, flavors of coffee and tobacco leaf gave a spiced opening. As the whiskey crossed my mid-palate, I found vanilla and coffee, which was almost a latte experience. Then, on the back, black pepper and oak drove everything home.
Cherry, barrel char, and clove left a medium-to-long, warming ending.