Doc Swinson Exploratory Cask 15 Year Release No. 6 Bourbon Review
Bottle photo credit goes to Kevin O'Connor (an absolute whiskey saint) who also sent along this sample for me to try. Thank you sir!
From the tastemakers at Doc Swinson's website:
Working with some of the best distillers in the industry we source a number of mash-bills in a variety of ages and barrel types. Taking these, we then go to work creating blends that we are curious about and enjoy, some of which will be finished in a selection of neat and rare casks from all over the world. Doc’s strives to be adaptive; we will only bottle what we believe makes the cut, and only when it’s ready. We also don’t believe any of our products are our magnum opus. This mindset keeps us creating, searching, and perfecting.
We pride ourselves on starting with quality ingredients and, through experimentation, finding an outcome that is better than the sum of their parts. At our heart, we are whiskey lovers and we aim to make whiskeys that are fun to make and even better to indulge in. Whatever comes through the doors at Doc Swinson’s, our small group of tastemakers works to create whiskeys that hold our expectations of great whiskies to a higher standard; and this starts with always letting the whiskey shine.
This release happens to be a single mash bill of a very low barrel count. There's a lot of rumors floating around where this mash bill comes from, but that's all they will be for now as the original distiller asked to remain nameless. I may wager a guess or an idea during my review. For now, let's see how this whiskey is!
Company on Label: Distiller's Way LLC (Doc Swinson's)
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 78.5% Corn, 13% Rye, 8.5% Malted Barley
Age: 15 years
Further identification: Rare Release No. 6, from 18 barrels, bottle no. 1702/2664
Nose: Wow, immediately after pouring I can already smell something wild coming out of this glass. Immediately there is a rich stone fruit sweetness that greets me. It softens as I inhale and turns slightly tannic like Syrah red wine. Some subtle hints of skillet-seared peanuts present softly alongside plum and a deep, tight-grained oak. A deep left nostril inhale shows off a touch of smoke alongside grass, earthy chocolate, and a salty turkey brine. My right nostril finds the sweet fruit and a bit of the spicy proof; there's blood orange, cranberry and a slight medicinal cherry that dance in the foreground before a rich vanilla toffee. Interesting white linens now after I let the glass rest a moment. The nose-feel is bright like a white tile floor under hospital lights. There are dark flavors that creep in from the sides, though, that tell a much more compelling, complex story. It's a rich, nutty snickers bar as the body develops in the glass. Soft drizzles of butterscotch sauce fall over confectionery sweet vanilla. This is too enticing... time for a sip! Afterwards there's a simplistic, rich candied fruit that sits alongside a potent white linen note. It borders on the paper note I get on a lot of Heaven Hill releases. It's vaguely musty all through this glass now. After a few drops of water the nose opens up with touches of leather. The empty glass smells of rich leather, old metal warship interiors (i.e. Battleship Cove), and lovely caramel chews.
Palate: Whew, that's a powerful first sip of the day! There's a big cinnamon splash to start, then the red grape sweetness kicks in after a few moments. The mouth feel is slightly dry, but very fruity. It feels as if I've just chewed on a tart dark cherry. The nuttiness from the nose swings in much stronger on the linger as I exhale. It reminds me of a Peaceful Meadows ice cream cake. Later on a much longer rest the same spice punch then sweet sizzle occurs, this time with much more caramel and soft bread notes. Misguided copper metallics settle onto the center of the tongue and give off a slightly bitter profile. While the nose had many fun nuances, the palate is pretty one dimensional here, leaving a bit to be desired. It's spicy characteristics that lead the charge of every sip seem to numb out most of the flavors on this. For science, I'll try my last sip with a little water. After adding a few drops and swirling, the spice is significantly subdued and I'm greeted with honey, plum, black pepper, molasses and soft floral aromas. My last sip is soft and easy with cherry skins, more waves of honey and a final flash of slight nuttiness.
This pour is greatly improved with water. Unfortunately I have but one sample to review this one on, so the score will have to stick for now! Thanks again to Kevin for the sample. Cheers!