By Jake Emen
Big Bottom Whiskey opened in 2010, and is located in Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s one of many fairly young producers dotting the northwest of the country, taking American whiskey farther and farther away from its Kentucky and Tennessee roots (see also, Dry Fly). They are technically not a distillery, but a bottler, which means they age, finish and bottle spirits obtained from other U.S. distilleries.
Big Bottom is named for a protected area of roughly 17,000 acres surrounding Mt. Hood in Oregon, which a member of the distillery had worked hard to obtain protection for, testifying to a Senate subcommittee in 2006.
Their American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the foundation of a lineup which includes various unique takes, spinoffs and experiments. Before diving into specialties such as their highly-acclaimed Port Cask or Zinfandel Cask finished whiskeys, let’s start at that core, the straight bourbon.
Big Bottom’s American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a small batch, non-chill filtered bourbon aged in new white oak casks. It has a mash bill with 36% rye, placing it near the upper end of what you’ll find with bourbon. (Breckenridge Bourbon, for instance, has a 38% rye content).
All of Big Bottom’s whiskeys purposefully have a 91 proof, 45.5% ABV. It’s a tribute from owner Ted Pappas to his classmates at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, class of 1991.
The bourbon has a light char on the nose, with a spicy aroma. That rye spice comes through on the palate as well, and really becomes the dominant force. You’ll find a sharp, strong rye flavor, with a touch of honey sweetness. There’s a smooth, warm finish, without much burn.
On the rocks, the spice dissipates on the nose, but you’ll still find that sharp rye bite as you taste. Overall though, it’s far lighter and smoother, with more honey, along with a melon-tinged sweet taste.
Big Bottom’s American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is worth a look if you’re keen on venturing beyond the Bluegrass State for your bourbon, or you’re interested in trying one of the rye-heavier bourbons currently on the market.
Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is available for purchase between $30 and $35. It is currently available mainly in the northwest and southeast of the country, including states such as Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.
In 2011, Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon Whiskey won a Bronze Medal for Taste at the MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.