Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Green River Distilling Co. recently launched the Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon. This is the first of a very promising line of single barrel bottlings set to be released exclusively at the distillery’s gift shop. This revitalized distillery changed ownership and head distiller not long after their first release hit the shelves last year. Given the quality of this sample, the new crew is continuing towards a very bright future.
Change is an old concept at Green River Distilling Co. Originally established in 1885 by John W. McCulloch in Owensboro, KY, Green River was granted the DSP-KY-10 (DSP stands for Distilled Spirits Producer). After a fire in 1914 wiped out the production area shortly before Prohibition, the distillery closed.
The property was rebuilt and passed through a series of investors over the years with limited success before being acquired by the Terressentia Corporation in 2014. Ron Call, a long-time distiller who worked for Jim Beam and the Florida Caribbean Distillers, oversaw the renovations of the property to restore it more closely to its original design.
In 2016, whiskey aging began under the O. Z. Taylor name. The same year, Ron’s son, Jacob Call, a well-respected distiller in his own right, took over as head distiller for the company.
In 2020, the company purchased the rights to Green River Distilling Co. name with the blessing of McCulloch’s great grandson, Rob McCulloch. In homage to the original company’s designs, the bottle heavily features a horseshoe motif and the dark green color of the original labels.
In the summer of 2022, only a few months after their first release launched, Bardstown Bourbon Company purchased Green River. Bardstown is a regarded contract distillery receiving wide praise for their collaborations and house releases. Owned by Pritzker Private Capital, Bardstown has collaborated with several big names in the alcohol industry, including Coors and Kentucky Owl.
Call stepped down as head distiller as part of the sale, and Aaron Harris took over as Master Distiller in the fall of 2022. Harris selected the barrel for this bourbon from Warehouse B, which he says is “loaded with honey barrels,” so expect more to come. It was bottled at barrel proof.
Like their Kentucky Bourbon and Wheated Bourbon, the corn for the mash is all Kentucky-grown and is purchased from local farmers. Harris describes the first release as “a rousing blend of spirituous vanilla and baking spices, coating the palate with creamy honey.” Their Kentucky Bourbon that I tasted last year was delicious and well priced, so I’m excited to try this.
Tasting Notes: Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged for at least five years in new American oak, 59.5% ABV, mash bill: 70% Kentucky corn, 21% rye, 9% malted barley, SRP $59.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This bourbon is moderate amber in color with a mahogany undertone.
Nose: The bourbon gave an earthy impression on my first sniff, like fresh mushrooms and pine forest soil. There’s a red berry note like fresh cranberries with a little pop of vanilla extract underneath.
Palate: On the palate, this is fiery and fruity with moderate astringency. I picked up notes of sweet caramel apples, fresh chanterelles, pine sap, and cherry Kool-Aid. Scents from my childhood. To paraphrase my initial blind tasting note, it tastes de-fricking-licious. Is someone baking an apple-cherry pie? No, that’s just the Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon opening up in the glass. Water makes the aromatics jump from the glass without compromising the oily feel on the body.
The finish reminds me of honey and vanilla bean simple syrup. My only complain is that the finish ends rather abruptly.