In the widening world of whiskey, not many brands can achieve true market differentiation. Two of the biggest ones of the last few years that come to mind would be Blue Run and Rare Character. With the team behind the butterfly broadening through those years, the title of Master Blender for this release is now being championed by Shaylyn Gammon, Director of Whiskey. Since their foundation in 2020, Blue Run has experimented with unique blends and single barrels in an attempt to "sneakerize" the whiskey industry. They've done a wonderful job so far, and I've been a fan of their offerings since the first 13 year ever graced my lips... but as with any new release in the ephemeral whiskey world, I like to continue to test my belief of broad statements such as this.
For a little backstory on this release, I'll reach into Blue Run's description which reads:
Blue Run Trifecta Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a small-batch whiskey that demonstrates the delicate balancing act required when blending a high-quality base whiskey with the vivid flavors and aromas from older “wood heat” whiskeys. Trifecta starts with a base of finely crafted six-year-old whiskey, which makes up less than half of the composition of the total liquid. To add additional depth and character, Blue Run Whiskey Director Shaylyn Gammon blends that with two whiskeys aged in the upper reaches of their respective rickhouses, giving them what she calls “wood heat.”
189 barrels were used for this blend which rendered out a 117.1 proof bourbon whiskey that Shaylyn is proud to put her name on. I've heard some other funny stories about some of the source whiskey for this blend, but let's get into what's in the bottle before we get too carried away.
Company on Label: Blue Run Spirits
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: A blend of the following mash bills
6 year component: 78% corn, 12% rye, 10% malted barley (46% of the blend)
8 year component: 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley (22% of the blend)
9 year component: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley (32% of the blend)
Age: 6 years (a blend of 46% 6 year, 22% 8 year, and 32% 9 year bourbon)
Further identification: This release was announced in August of 2023 and is continuing to expand into new markets at the time of writing at an MSRP of $180
Nose: Sweet tarts, confectioners sugar and mild baking spice introduce a remarkably unique profile on first diving in. Light white pepper and prevalent oak suggest high age before a hint of aspen swings in behind. Oodles of toffee undulate in waves all throughout this glass. Late in the glass I find the most clear raspberry note I’ve ever smelled on a whiskey - yum! Molasses and barrel funk are dominant on a well rested glass. There is wood spice galore that just sings here. The dominant nose trifecta I find is: Sweet tarts, toffee and white pepper. The empty glass (if you’re into that kind of thing) smells of marbled rye and molasses.
Palate: Cherry dominates the first sip that comes across a touch hot. Diving back in illustrates vanilla bean ice cream and gobs of whipped cream that land first before praline, clove and cinnamon dance on the tongue. The linger is creamy and long filled with Necco wafers and vanilla salt water taffy. A larger sip and swish reveals deep, dark, cool tones of oiled leather, open floor rick house earth and a surprise raspberry popsicle. Sipping near the bottom of the glass shows off a jagged profile trying to do a little too much all at once. My last sip palate trifecta consists of confectioners sugar, clove and leather.
TL;DR: Unique spice-forward Kentucky bourbon that jumps around a lot
Shaylyn has managed to take well understood Kentucky bourbon stocks and blended them in a way that creates subtle new nuances for even the most veteran palates. This is a great dram that drinks above its age statement, but doesn’t quite deliver enough wow factor for me to run out and buy a bottle for myself personally. It will undoubtedly be a treat to continue to watch this brand grow into their plans to build their own distillery. With a palate as exceptional as Shaylyn's, the future is surely bright. I’d like to thank Blue Run for sending me this sample so I could give it an honest review with no strings attached.