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. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
The story of Hirsch whiskeys is a lot like the story of the larger spirits industry these days. It’s somewhat complicated, with layers of history and modern conglomerates overlapping in ways that most consumers can safely ignore. Ultimately, though, it gives us access to a golden era of craft labels that our parents and grandparents could only have dreamed about. (If they had dreamed about whiskey).
Hirsch’s lineage goes back to San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, which claims to be the world’s first craft brewer. Anchor Brewing (which only this summer was told it was shutting down courtesy of new owner Sapporo) became Anchor Distilling, which eventually spun off to become Hotaling & Co.
Hotaling, still based at San Francisco’s Pier 50, became known for Old Potrero pot-still rye named after the neighborhood surrounding the distillery. It also became an importer and distributer of other whiskies, including Kavalan, Nikka, Old Putney, Speyburn, Dingle, and Writer’s Tears.
So… Hirsch is a small piece in a larger corporate enterprise with ties to a bunch of other whiskey brands. Par for the course in 2023. What matters is where the whiskey comes from and how good it tastes.
Hirsch, another name resuscitated from a historic brand, gives Hotaling an opportunity to source and blend its own craft spirits. The Single Barrel Double Oak is the product of a partnership with Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company – which blended two of its whiskeys for this release.
There are three versions of the release, with different blends of the same two batches of Bardstown whiskey. The one reviewed here is 90% of the eight-year-old bourbon and 10% of the three-year-old batch. The younger whiskey has a higher proportion of rye, giving a little kick to the overall blend.
Hirsch says the Single Barrel Double Oak “began with an eight-year Kentucky bourbon to bring forward softer notes from the wood. The second barrel was designed to add a light, caramelized layer to the finished bourbon without too much intensity.”
Tasting Notes: Hirsch Single Barrel Double Oak
Vital stats: Mash bill is a blend of two bourbons; the majority is 72% corn, 13% rye, and 15% malted barley, aged for eight years and seven months; the remaining 10%, is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% barley aged for three years and seven months; 127.5 proof/63.75% alcohol by volume; only 251 bottles of this blend released (bottle no. 45 reviewed here); available in 15 states; MSRP of $99.
Appearance: It’s a dark, brownish amber, courtesy of the 8+ years of aging for most of the blend. The legs on the side of the glass are heavy and thick.
Nose: My first reaction was surprise at how sweet it smells for a 127.5 proof whiskey. There’s far less ethanol than I might have expected. Instead, I find French toast, nutmeg, caramel, and a strong sense of overripe bananas.
Palate: The high ABV hits harder on the palate than it did in the nose. I taste Red Hots, creamed corn, baked beans, and nutmeg. Ginger spice lingers in a long finish. Somewhat surprisingly for a bourbon at this proof level, adding a splash of water didn’t seem to make a lot of difference. I prefer it the way it comes out of the bottle.