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.
Modernity and tradition meet in Red Corn Bourbon Whiskey from Still Austin Whiskey Co. Bottled in bond is a precedent going back to 1897 and assures us of a certain level of quality. While whiskey production quality in general has improved leaps and bounds since then across the board, the designation still carries weight.
Texas whiskey, on the other hand, is more of a newcomer to the scene, both in new distilleries opening operations and being defined as its own style. Still Austin joined the scene in 2015 as one of the first grain-to-glass distilleries in Texas since Prohibition times. Grain-to-glass indicates a local dedication, and this distillery based outside of Austin is using only Texas products to make their spirits, then distilling and aging them all within the state.
This bourbon is part of Still Austin’s seasonal bottled-in-bond series. Seasonality is a crucial part of bonded whiskeys, which Still Austin is recognizing and furthering in this series. Each release is incorporating a different grain in the mash bill and named for the season it’s produced in. This Summer release is specifically utilizing Jimmy red corn in addition to the standard white corn, rye, and malted barley they make their bourbon from.
The label is particularly beautiful, each expression in this series being decorated with Texas elements that embody the season. The Summer bottle features a “heat loving” red snake on a cactus, painted by local artist Marc Burckhardt. As the Summer release, this expression of the bottled-in-bond series is particularly focused on the heat element of the season.
Heat, a factor in all spirit production, is very particularly important with whiskey being aged in barrels. Hotter climates see a “quicker” aging process, with the spirit taking on more barrel flavor faster than compared to colder climates. The obvious example is a comparison of Scotch and (particularly) Kentucky Bourbon – cold weather spirits can see decades in the barrel, while warm climates more commonly present their higher-end ages around 12 years.
Texas takes it up a notch with the heat factor – literally. The more intense heat coupled with a lack of much cooling down has its own effect on the whiskey. According to Texas whiskey makers, the heat dynamic is pulling more from the barrel than a more neutral climate. This is being looked at as a major component of the strongly growing commodity that is Texas whiskey. It’s natural that Still Austin would highlight this heat with this bottle, being so Texas-focused and that this bottled-in-bond bottle hails from a Summer season.
Red Corn Bourbon Whiskey joins three other season-focused bottles in the bottled-in-bond series. This lineup is in addition to the distillery’s other spirits, three bourbons, two ryes, and a gin. The distillery is very community and creative-arts focused, and features local events such as live music as well as daily tours. While not available everywhere yet, Still Austin products can be purchased in over 30 states.
Tasting Notes: Still Austin Red Corn Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Vital Stats: 50% ABV, 100 proof; bottled-in-bond; mash bill: 36% red corn, 34% white corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley; aged minimum 4 years; 750mL.
Appearance: Very translucent chestnut, scant to no legs.
Nose: Earthy, light, and dry. Sweet grass leads off, morphing slightly into a more savory hay note. Black tea lingers throughout, with a touch of sweet cream on the end.
Palate: Quite light in texture, and silky. A warmth from grassiness and baking spice leads off, drying down into a light nuttiness reminiscent of tahini. A cooling peppermint lightens up the on the palate, with the finish being richer and darker with notes of cocoa. Adding just a touch of water brings some caramel sweetness through.