By Jake Emen
At Big Bottom Whiskey in Hillsboro, Oregon, their American Straight Bourbon Whiskey is produced not only to serve as its own spirit, but also to serve as their base package for experimentation and other offerings. Big Bottom takes that bourbon and spins off a number of separate varieties, including the Port Cask Finish and Zinfandel Cask Finish whiskeys.
They even have what they call their Warehouse Series, currently with half a dozen additional experimental whiskeys, an ultra-boutique lineup only available for sampling and extremely limited distribution at their own tasting room.
Here, we’ll examine the Port Cask Finish, the most heavily hyped of their lineup, deservedly so.
The Port Cask Finish offers the same 36% rye content and 91 proofing of Big Bottom’s American Straight Bourbon Whiskey. They take that product and finish it in a 10-year Tawny Port Barrel for six months. In the glass, you’ll immediately notice the red tint that you’d expect from such a finishing.
Its time in the port barrel served this bourbon well, taking the sharp bite of the rye spice off. The nose is far mellower and sweeter — think a cherry-liquor infused chocolate. On the palate, in place of the spice you’ll find a more complex and wider array of flavors, and an altogether richer, chewier whiskey.
You’ll enjoy a long, slow and warm finish, with almost no burn. Some of that spice which had been removed comes back on the finish as well. However, you will notice a bit of the dry-mouthed tannin-feel in your mouth that you’d get with a full bodied, dry red wine.
On ice, some of the above flavors and complexities are really dulled down. The remaining spice elements vanish, while the sweetness is lessened as well. As such, I’d suggest enjoying this one neat as the ice had a watering down effect on this bourbon.
Whiskey drinkers in the southeast (Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina) and western U.S. (Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada) will be able to find Big Bottom’s Port Cask Finish bourbon whiskey available for retail purchase at between $30 and $35.
Big Bottom Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Port Cask Finish won a Gold Medal at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal for Taste at the 2011 MicroLiquor Spirit Awards.