26th August 2020
Texas is an exciting place to be for a spirits drinker, and the Bourbon scene in particular feels like it’s experiencing a renaissance moment with so many high quality hand-crafted locally distilled whiskies hitting the market. Supporting local as a Texan Bourbon lover has never been easier or more fun, and as someone with a limited budget and a taste for the good stuff, I couldn’t be happier with the awesome range of delicious, price-accessible Bourbons that I can buy straight from the source, many of which I hope to write about.
Once in a while, however, a whiskey comes along that puts the top into top shelf, and Milam and Greene have pulled off an absolute blinder with this, the first in their Hill Country Whiskey series. The Distillery Edition Straight Bourbon is a mind-blowing riot of flaming spiced rye parrying with warm woody vanilla-toffee-apple. The potent, dramatic intensity of this 121.9 proof 60.9% ABV stunner lingers in your mouth for hours, but you don’t actually want it to leave. The depth and variety of flavours, from cinder-caramel to firey chilli-spice make it impossible to get tired of, and while the sheer heft of its strength makes it a slow sipper, it’s one you can continue to sip for longer than you probably should. I’m not as familiar with top-shelf Bourbons as I am with Scotch Whiskies but the quality components are unmistakeable – the weaving journey of flavour complexity, insistent and attention-demanding, followed by that long, luxurious finish. Freshly released last Saturday, the Distillery Edition Straight Bourbon has them all.
It was such a treat to take part in Milam and Greene’s tutored online tasting, where we had the pleasure of chatting with the powerhouse-quartet of Head Brewer Jordan Osborne, Master Distiller Marlene Holmes, CEO and blender Heather Greene and Founder Marsha Milam. Heather explained to us the crucial element of mixology involved in curating this unique blend of seven 2-3 year old barrels, the first of what will hopefully be many. Just 1,430 bottles of this epic beverage were produced, and I was positively thrilled to be sampling one of them. As a Whiskey Sommelier, Heather talked us through the process of tasting and selecting the most complementary flavours to combine, as one would when cooking with a spice rack – a wonderful visual image as well as an excellent analogy! We were also educated on the crucial role of the Texas terroir in producing the desired flavour complexity. It was great to hear Marlene discuss terroir in the context of Whiskey production, particularly when considering the migration of Bourbon distilling from Kentucky to Texas in terms of retaining the characteristics of traditional Bourbon while putting a very local and specific stamp on the flavour. Our water, weather and soil make a significant contribution the Distillery Edition’s taste and aroma. Jordan gave us further insights into whiskey’s composition, use of local ingredients and highlighted the importance of his classified yeast blend in ensuring the exact right balance of the other elements, and it was a treat to hear from Marsha about the evolution of Milam & Greene as well as their plans for the future. This was a fantastic tasting session exploring a truly exceptional Whiskey, and I learned a lot while enjoying one of the finest Bourbons I’ve possibly ever tried. I can’t wait to visit the Milam & Greene taproom in Blanco TX once they are able to reopen!
NB Milam & Greene sponsored this tasting and my whiskey was complimentary. No one forced me to like it though – all opinions are my own.