Northside Distilling BEETAC Honey Barrel Finished Bourbon Review
The fantastic label for this pick was crafted by the private group Boston Barrel Society. It is a play on the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (aka BTAC) line. The clever labels are almost as enjoyable as the fantastic picks that are coming out of Northside Distilling. The previous project that was also honey barrel finished was the Wan Vinkle Lot "Bee", which I reviewed. I've been nursing that one bottle since then and I may have to do a side-by-side of these two at some point if time and fills allow. I'd like to mention (since I don't normally do this) that this review will be on a freshly cracked bottle with little to no oxidation present. Let's get into it.
Company on Label: Northside Distilling Co
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Barley
Proof: 110° (proofed up from aging in the honey barrel from 108°)
Age: 6 years
Further identification: Boston Barrel Society pick 2021
Nose: Whew-wee! That is honey forward! Hibiscus also greeted my nose on the first whiff. Malt and pepper follow. It definitely feels a bit hotter than the Lot "Bee", which proof-wise makes sense. Strong oak aromas make this feel like it's a 20 year instead of a 6.5 as the label states. Powerful floral aromas dart out like little needles from the oak base. They sting the nostrils slightly. A bit of spring dandelion, some earthy grassy notes, more pungent pepper and leather. Post-sip things are still very peppery, but with a bit more herbals. There's something that wants to be molasses but they honey influence doesn't allow it to come through. Some dry corn stalk can be found later in the glass. Definitely a good bit of rye grain to this pour, which is unsurprising with it making up 36% of the mash bill. Near the bottom is where things really start to turn herbal and citrus forward. It elicits a floral feeling akin to white lily petals. A lemon zest and shiny copper come to the foreground on a deep inhale. The empty glass smells of potent dark chocolate, nutmeg, dark vanilla, and molasses. The undertones feel a bit Christmas-y to me. I will be saving enough of this bottle til then now!
Palate: Pow! Right in the kisser. Sweet child of mine this has so much honey sweetness. It almost tastes like some kind of 'dark' honey, if that's a thing. I wouldn't be surprised if you told me this was distilled mead or something wild. It's like Dansk Mjød Viking Blod on steroids. More of the hibiscus comes through on the palate, as it did on the nose. Ooh a tiny bit of milk chocolate squeaked out past the sweetness and brought with it a bit of syrupy vanilla. There also feels like there is a hot cherry floating in the background just waiting to break through, and I kind of hope it does before the end of this pour. A longer chew does pull it forward, with more of a tannin forward plum and grape profile presenting itself alongside it. I'll be honest I really want to know what the base bourbon tastes like without the honey influence, as nice as it is! I feel like it's hiding so much. Definitely an easy sipper for the exit proof point. The last sip leaves me with orange peel zest, bitters, light cinnamon candy and a malty fruitiness that reminds me of a warm summer day spent on the farm. I think this would make an unbelievable old fashioned, as much as I prefer adding a rye to that cocktail. It's almost the entirety of that drink already without any added ingredients.
I liked this one a tad less than the Lot "Bee" to be honest. This pour really didn't let the bourbon do it's thing. I can definitely appreciate the drink for what it is, which to me, is more of a high octane mead than a bourbon, so if you can manage your expectations in that regard, it will not let you down. Really tasty stuff. If I wasn't still in the process of moving/organizing all my bottles I might be able to find my Lot "Bee" for a side-by-side, but that will have to wait as moving is still ongoing and my whiskey shelves are not yet painted! Instead I think I'll have another pour of this BEETAC tonight. Cheers!