I am continuing the Starlight Sunday trend I started on my Instagram last week! The Indiana winery-turned-distillery is putting out some incredible spirits these days and on my last visit we got to sample our fair share of their offerings. That visit did not include any Cognac finishes so I'm excited to try this one! I may or may not have another bourbon and rye incoming from the same picking team... My previous review from the same distillery was an unfinished bourbon single barrel from a store out of CT.
Company on Label: Starlight Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: A blend of Starlight's 3 & 4 grain mash (51% Corn, 20% Rye, 9% Wheat, 20% Malted Barley) and (60% Corn, 20% rye, 20% Malted Barley)
Age: 4 (and a half) years is listed on the website
Further identification: Barrel 21-2213-1 was selected by the Seelbach's team and is available on their website at time of writing
Nose: Oooh. The nose feels immediately 'big'; it's big in the way of potency of aroma. Sweet earth is the best way I can describe what jumps out early on in the glass. Sharp vanilla bean, sugary cherry skins. stewed apricots and prunes are all very present, distinct and delectable on the nose. There's a dry leather that sits on the back end of a long inhale. There's definitely some distinct earthy funk that likely got imparted from the cognac barrel finish, but this is a prime example of finishing done right - not so long that it changes the base whiskey. I find a nice linen quality that comes along with the soft oak notes. The overall profile feels balanced and quite expressive. Time for a sip!
After returning from a sip I find funky malt, orange marmalade and potent sweet sugars. I really love the smell of this. I'm finding myself spending much more time with this than going for sips. Nearing the bottom of the glass I continue to find the potent linen, hints of orange and red berry medley. Deeper inhales continue to drum up leather, earthy tones and funky fruit. The empty glass smells of honeysuckle, grenadine, charred oak and a faint savory lemon butter sauce. Lovely and fun all throughout the glass.
Palate: My first sip is very fruit-forward with plum, raspberry and blackcurrant coming across much like the nose - earthy sweet. Further sipping shows off rich oak bark, soft black pepper, and a thick mouth coating of sweet grape and mixed berries. As the glass weathers on there is a floral softness that begins to take over; it's reminiscent of honey without as much sweetness. Nearing the bottom of the glass I find some creamy chocolate and confectioners sugar. While this one doesn't have infinite complexity like some may hope for, the handful of flavors it does produce are quite enjoyable. I feel this one would pair well with a cool night on the porch with a mild cigar. My last sip offers a big mouth coating of orange peel, hints of grapefruit and a nice zest that lightly tingles the gums. The linger is medium long and continues to simmer in the gums for quite some time while a faint caramel trails along with a slightly smoky undertone.
Awesome pick! I didn't think I was going to enjoy this one as much as I did, but a fresh palate can do wonders for a whiskey. Starlight - keep up the great work! You make picking barrels so easy when everything you make is so good. Cheers to Blake & team for bringing this whiskey to the world for enjoyment!