By Father John Rayls
The Northeast’s “Black Dirt Region” stretches from southern Orange County, New York into northern Sussex County, New Jersey, very near the intersection of the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. However, it’s primarily centered on Warwick, New York, the home of Black Dirt Distillery Company.
The area was a vast marshland until drained in the early 1800’s for canal construction. A very rich black earth was left behind, which gave the region its name. The company also produces Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, Warwick Valley Wines and American Fruits Fine Brandies & Liqueurs.
Black Dirt Bourbon has a very attractive bottle with labeling to match. Unfortunately, the white label tape that stretched across the cork stopper disintegrated as I tried to unseal the bottle. My OCD came into full bloom as I had to scrape all of the broken pieces and glue residue off with a fingernail.
The liquid had multiple hues of color running through it, but eventually settled on a darker burnt orange appearance. The bourbon appeared to be pretty thin while in the bottle, but managed to produce some mid-length to long legs in the glass.
On the nose you may find a light popcorn or cereal aroma along with the traditional oak and some sweet vanilla. It is a very subtle aroma and you must take your time to get much of anything on the nose.
This is a very easy drinking whiskey (90 proof or 45% abv) and that is not meant as a negative. It reminds me of a good Canadian whisky, only a little more flavorful. It is not thick or syrupy and does not coat the mouth in any way, but does taste surprisingly good. It isn’t watery, but it is just a bit thin. The taste is all at the back of the mouth until about the third or fourth wave of flavor finally makes it to the front as it continues to linger.
Black Dirt has a very long finish. Of course you get the oak, vanilla and caramel. However, the real surprise is in the spiciness. I don’t know how they get the rye to rise up with a mashbill of 80% corn, 12% malted barley and only 8% rye, but it does. You can really taste the rye in the finish. It’s not overpowering, but just drives a very enjoyable flavor from the back of the throat to the front of the mouth and then puts it in park. It lingers on as you enjoy my little waves.
This is an interesting bourbon. Although I only rated this bourbon as a “B”, I would actually spend my hard earned cash on another bottle. It isn’t complex in any sense. It’s just a very enjoyable drinking experience. I would definitely include it with any tasting experience I was hosting.
I found Black Dirt Single Barrel Bourbon for as low as $26.95 for a 375ml bottle. The standard 750ml bottle will run somewhere between $39.95 (on sale) and $55.