By Richard Thomas
When the newcomers at Millbrook Distillery released their Dutchess Private Reserve Bourbon earlier this year, the whiskey was warmly received by those who got to try it and write about it, including our own Jake Emen. At the time we were working up our review, the distillery told me they intended to release a barrel strength version around the same time as my annual visit to the States. The timing on that could not have been better.
This is a 115 proof (57.5% abv) version of the same straight bourbon released as the Dutchess Private Reserve. Although Millbrook has its own copper and is hard at work on producing, both this and its precursor are sourced products. The New York distillery has taken the standard (and very reasonable) path of building its brand while it invests years into turning out its own juice.
In the glass, the Millbrook Barrel Strength has the coppery, middle amber coloring one expects from a solid straight bourbon. The nose is thick with caramel, vanilla, and nutmeg, which along with a floral rye spice note makes it almost candy-like. There is no alcohol bite in the nose, but I wouldn’t expect one despite the barrel strength designation, as the proof is below 120.
The flavor sees the nutmeg note, a current of peppery, toasty wood, and the rye spice coming together for a decent kick. The vanilla and caramel share center stage with that jab, and a bit of barrel char seeps in on the backside. The finish is quite warm, lasting, and a bit dry.
I’m generally a “neat please” whiskey drinker, and I don’t think a whiskey below 120 proof should need water to moderate its alcoholic content. Yet this Millbrook Barrel Strength came across as a bit too big and bold as is, and that had nothing to do with strong alcohol content.
So, I put a few drops of branch water in, and that brought the sweet side a little more forward, and the whole thing came into better balance. If the bourbon seems a bit too dry and toasty, try that out and see if it doesn’t help.
Millbrook Barrel Strength Straight Bourbon is priced at $60 with online retailers.
Editor’s Note: In April 2015, Millbrook changed their name to Taconic Distillery. This article’s title was updated to reflect the name for ease-of-search purposes, but the review itself has remained unchanged.