Editor’s note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Limestone Branch Distillery. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Being tied to a well-known family business can be a blessing or a curse. Stephen and Paul Beam, brothers and seventh generation distillers of the famous Beam family, leaned on the positive side of the equation.
Together they started Limestone Branch Distillery in 2011. Four years later they bought the rights to the Yellowstone brand and began releasing new releases under the label. (The Beams claim lineage from J. Bernard Dant, who first distilled Yellowstone whiskey in 1872.)
The juice the Beams made is still aging in Kentucky warehouses. But with access to aged whiskey from Luxco, their partner with the Yellowstone brand, they began issuing limited-edition bourbon in 2015 that, from the start, showed an appreciation for the art of blending.
The 2016 edition, for example, featured a blend of rye bourbons aged 7 and 12 years matured in toasted wine casks. The 2017 version incorporated 4-, 7-, and 12-year-old bourbons finished in double-seasoned charred wine barrels. Last year was a 7 year old bourbon finished in barrels of French armagnac.
The 2021 Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon offers 7 and 15 year old whiskeys – the younger bourbon finished in casks that previously held an intense Italian red wine known as Amarone della Valpolicella. It comes 101 proof in an embossed bottle that would look great on virtually any bar.
More bars will also be likely to have it: 7,500 cases have been released this year, still half as many as in 2020.
Tasting notes: Yellowstone Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon (2021)
Vital Stats: Blend of 7- and 15-year-old Kentucky bourbons, including 7-year-old barrels finished in Amarone wine casks; 101 degrees/50.5% alcohol by volume; MSRP of $100 per 750ml bottle. Lexington, Kentucky.
Appearance: Dark amber, tending towards orange. Impressive legs on the side of a Glencairn.
Nose: There is something floral that reminds me of lavender and potpourri. It’s almost certainly the Amarone influence, which also shows in a whiff of fresh apricot.
Palace: There is a spiciness in the mouth that cannot be found on the nose. On my first tasting, a surprising influence of cracked pepper was more pronounced than the less surprising honey and vanilla. Give this bourbon a few minutes and maybe a little water, though, and it changes. In the second wave, I found plum, pipe smoke, and supple, soft leather. It has mellowed nicely, in other words. Finally – and oddly enough – I discovered a medium-long finish from Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.