Hirsch Selected Whiskeys - "The Bivouac" Kentucky Straight Bourbon Review
If you've heard the phrase "bivvy" before, you probably already know what a bivouac is. For the uninitiated this fancy word, pronounced 'biv-oo-ack', is a temporary camp or sleeping arrangement you might use when you don't have access to a full tent or more robust shelter. If you've ever slept out under the stars in nothing but a sleeping bag like I have many times, you've set up a bivouac. Hirsch further describes their intentions with this release, stating:
It alludes to a way of travel only meant for those who want to truly immerse themselves in nature. HIRSCH The Bivouac honors those adventurous spirits who are brave enough to take the road less traveled.
The Bivouac combines two straight bourbons distilled in Bardstown, Kentucky - the world capital of Bourbon. Our custom mashbill is inspired by A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16-year-old legendary whiskey, providing balance to our make.
You may already know about my love for Hirsch Selected Whiskeys and their associations with great distillates. I've been a big fan of their releases to date, and had the opportunity to try this release when it first came out back in October of 2022. It was ultimately good enough of a first impression for me to buy a bottle for my shelf. Now that we've had some time to let the excitement of a new release die down a little, where does this pour land? Let's dive in and find out.
Company on Label: Hirsch Distillers Bardstown Kentucky
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: A blend of two mash bills
95% proportion: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
5% proportion: 72% Corn, 13% Rye, 15% Malted Barley
Age: 3 years (blend of 95% 3 year, 2 month and 5% 8 year whiskey)
Further identification: This orange label Selected Whiskey from Hirsch comes at a more approachable price and proof than some of their previous releases; it was first introduced in 2022 and comes bearing a cork strip similar to old tax strips that shows the batch number "AHH0822" which comes from a run of about 160 barrels
Nose: Sweet corn and hay jump out of the glass prominently. Coffee gone cold in the mug is well reminiscent of a true camping experience. Oily caramel and soft chocolate dominate the simple nose-feel. As I dig deeper subtle cherry skins can be found. Some youthful sawdust can be found at times, but it is fairly well covered by enjoyable aromas. Let's move into a sip from here.
Coming back to the nose I find more honey sweetness and light oak. Deep inhales produce notes of light graham cracker. A swirl of the glass unlocks much stronger aromas of black peppercorn, cinnamon cereal, rye bread, and bright grapefruit. I find the nose to be quite solid here - all pleasant aromas, but not overly complex. The oak is decently well developed and I think if I was in a rush to get another release out the door, I'd agree with the blenders that this was just about at its minimum ready state. I don't think it picked up very much from the 5% proportion of the same mash bill that was used in a previous release. The empty glass smells of pancake batter and soft pixie stick sweetness.
Palate: Wow, what an incredible softness here, even at 100 proof. If you told me this was 80 proof I'd probably believe you. As the liquid slides across the tongue, I find a soft linen doily introduces vanilla for a brief moment on a bright stoneware plate. Another sip builds in soft, oily caramel chews. I'm really amazed at how soft this drinks; it's like the feeling you get when you skydive through a layer of clouds with moist air being forced into your mouth in an exhilarating moment of complete focus. As I continue to explore through the depths of this pour, I do find the flavors begin to build on the palate. Buttercream frosting and graham cracker begin to undulate in waves of intensity. As I get near the bottom of the glass more cereal tones indicative of grains not yet matured away begin to surface. They are subtle, and only a seasoned palate will probably pick up on them. If you'd call yourself more of an average whiskey drinker, I think you'll find this pour to be unequivocally smooth. My last sip is again fairly straight forward with hints of raisin, caramel and oily coffee bean. The linger is short and sweet.
(Decent. I can go either way on it.)
Hirsch has created a fantastic crowd-pleasing blend with this one, and ultimately pulled off a miracle with the input liquid specifications presented. It's ultimately not going to wow any whiskey connoisseurs, but the price-point should have been a good indication of that. I'm certainly not disappointed to own a bottle, and I'd like to remind everyone that a 3 is not a bad score on my rating scale. Ultimately scores should follow a bell curve, and this is a solid middle-of-the-road whiskey that I think many folks will enjoy.