Big Bottom Port Cask Finish Bourbon Review

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By Jake Emen

Rating: B+

Big Bottom Port Cask

Big Bottom Port Cask Finish Bourbon
(Credit: Big Bottom)

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 Bourbon
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.

The Price
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.

Awards
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.

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3 comments

  1. I’ve been curious about Big Bottom products but haven’t seen any yet here in Kentucky. I wonder how tis compares to Angel’s Envy with the same finishing technique.

  2. Me too. I’ve been working on a feature article about port-finishing bourbon and scotch, but Big Bottom wasn’t part of the research.

  3. James -BBW uses tawny port casks and instills a longer finishing time in those finishing barrels – 6 months vs. 3 months in ruby port casks offered by Angel’s Envy. Very different products where you will get a lot more port characteristics in the BBW bourbon but at very fine balance. Not sold in Kentucky but http://www.caskers.com has periodic specials when it is available. Cheers!

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