Don't you worry your pretty little mind, that Tennessee statement in the title does NOT come from Dickel. Pursuit Spirits is reinventing the 'sourcing' game by laying down very specific runs of barrels at three distinct distilleries in order to carve out a blending space that is very much their own. Striving to make a whiskey that is unique in a market as saturated as it is today is no small task, but having the brand ownership be long-time whiskey geeks certainly helps.
I recently had the wonderful experience of getting the behind the scenes tour of two fantastic new opportunities for the Pursuit Spirits brand to grow into. One is a huge warehouse that certainly has quite a bit of storage potential - perhaps enough headspace for a still? The second is a really awesome consumer-facing space that could be one of the best destinations on whiskey row. Both of these spaces need a ton of work done before they're ready, but it was certainly cool to see the "before" of what is definitely going to be something awesome if Kenny's and Ryan's dreams have enough dollars behind them to come to fruition. Check out some of the images below for a sneak peek of your own. We toured both of these locations in depth and enjoyed a plethora of the Pursuit offerings. Everything I had was certainly up to snuff quality wise and I found myself going back to their sherry finished rye the most as we sipped and chatted.
Back to the whiskey at hand... The Pursuit United flagship blend first debuted at the start of 2021; the brand was founded in 2018 by Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil following their wildly successful podcast Bourbon Pursuit. They talk about growing their brand amongst the heavy competition that "big bourbon" poses in one of their recent episodes. Okay seriously this time, back to the whiskey. I'd like to note that Kenny sent me home with this bottle at no cost to me; I'd like to thank him and Pursuit Spirits for allowing me to give this an honest review with no strings attached.
Company on Label: Pursuit Spirits
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed proportions of 2 high rye and a wheated bourbon mash bills from:
Kentucky (Bardstown Bourbon Company) - 75% Corn, 21% Rye, and 4% Malted Barley
Tennessee - 80% Corn, 10% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
New York (Finger Lakes Distilling) - 70% Local Corn, 20% Red Winter Wheat, 10% Malted Barley
Further identification: This is the inaugural release of Pursuit Spirits take on a flagship blend; it will bear a batch name moving forward so whiskey nerds like us can keep track of the changes through the years
Nose: Light hot chocolate powder and level oak fills my nostrils on an initial inhale. Buttermilk pancakes, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg provide a wonderful breakfast array for me. Deep inhales produce confectioners sugar and malt chocolate butterscotch covered bundt cake aromas. The nose-feel has such an interesting texture to it; it reminds me of heavy wool. Light complexities of popcorn kernels, tiramisu and modeling clay provide a rabbit hole for the nose to investigate. Vanilla builds marvelously late in the glass. Overall the nose is wonderfully approachable and features a deliciously sweet medley that I think just about anyone could appreciate.
Palate: My first sip is elegantly layered with cinnamon crusted coffee cake, chocolate chip cookie dough and raspberry tart. Normally I might liken this kind of profile to something coming out of a French patisserie, but this inherently feels American. Perhaps that means it's a touch overly sweet, but I'm here for it. The mouth coating is sticky and spotty like maple syrup with globs of good nuttiness hanging around in fun pockets for later enjoyment. As I sit and swish a small volume I find a lot of great dried fruit bubbling up. The proof gets a little out of hand when doing this, but it's nothing a seasoned bourbon drinker can't handle. I find this pour to slowly edge towards the feeling of pairing of a good red wine with a scrumptious after-dinner dessert. Everything is thoroughly satisfying about the flavor profile, the mouthfeel and the evolution; I'm not usually one to write home about blends, but this is very tastefully executed. As I sip down near the bottom of the glass I find that the profile has mellowed out fairly drastically. Praline is the introduction, cherry hots are the main course and a malted milk ball swings in for a satisfying arc. My last sip is an amalgamation of the body of text above; a satisfying sip for any occasion, except perhaps a tired day, where this might do well proofed down just a touch more. Yum!
I've seen many new companies in the last handful of years try their hand at blending and sourcing. Most of them fail. If batch 1 of Pursuit United is an official pedigree of Ryan and Kenny's blending skill however, they're in for a bright future.