There’s a new bourbon in town with incredible history and the wherewithal to release under the strict rules to be called Bottled in Bond. But it’s not from Kentucky. Or Indiana. Or Tennessee for that matter.
In July 2019, Missouri passed a state law for labeling whiskey as “Missouri Bourbon.” Not only must it comply with the federal standards of identity, it must also be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled in Missouri, and the barrels must be manufactured in the state. Beginning with distillate produced on January 1, 2020, “Missouri Bourbon” must also be made with corn grown exclusively in Missouri.
Enter Ben Holladay. With localized climate and geology similar to Kentucky, and better access to prized oak for barrels, it’s a wonder that this area of Missouri didn’t develop as more competitive to Kentucky in whiskey production over the course of history. Ben Holladay has that history though, dating back to 1856, and it’s picking up making bourbon the right way and labeling it with transparency. The label shows that this bottle is comprised of 21% from the 1st floor and 79% from the 5th floor of their Warehouse C, along with distillation season and precise bottling date. The Missouri law and this labeling transparency can give Kentucky legislators and distillers some sound ideas.
Ben Holladay Tasting Notes
|Whiskey:||Ben Holladay Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Bottled in Bond.|
|ABV:||50% ABV (100 proof)|
Grassy, dry wood, grain, and baking spice dominate, but I’m not really getting any of the sweet aromas that I expect. It’s mostly one-dimensional. I get a little bit of leather with deep inhalation, but we really shouldn’t be working this hard for aromas.
The aromas had me ready to be underwhelmed, but I was misguided. It’s creamy on the palate with a base of leather and dry oak, with intriguing ginger and licorice flavors. It’s still missing caramel sweetness so it lacks some traditional balance, but the creaminess is so noteworthy that it deserves this second mention. This is best enjoyed neat.
No real intensity and seemingly crisp before it revives itself with a lingering cola flavor, slight tobacco, and a faint slow burn.
They’re onto something in Missouri. It’s not robust and instead is an easy sipper, but I’m most intrigued by the incredible creaminess. The transparency on the label is unparalleled, which earns extra points in my book. So to sum it up, since Ben Holladay is only available in select markets in Missouri and Kansas, that really means that if you’re traveling through, you have to map out liquor stores on your route.
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me a sample for this review,
without any strings attached.