By Richard Thomas
Whenever I am asked about how to organize a trip on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, my first question is always “Where are you staying, Lexington or Louisville?” This is because these two cities, the largest in Kentucky, either embrace or sit on either side of most of the distilleries in the state, including all of the “Kentucky Majors.” If you are working from the Lexington side of the trail, there is now something special waiting for you.
Town Branch Distillery has added a single barrel version of their bourbon to their line-up, and it’s a distillery-only release at that. Town Branch Bourbon started as a sourced whiskey, although Town Branch has been around long enough now that while most or all of what is in the bottles is still sourced, you can at least count on the company having aged it under their own roofs.
The Town Branch Single Barrel is now in its second batch, with the distillery choosing just one barrel or two per batch to dump and bottle as a cask strength bourbon, with the proof floating in the 120 to 125 range (reports that all bottlings are around 125 are incorrect; bad facts about Town Branch seem common).
A key feature of Town Branch is its light, easy drinking character. The odd thing about Town Branch Single Barrel is how the substantially increase in strength has increased the intensity of the bourbon, but without sacrificing that easy drinking nature.
As a whiskey rises above 60% abv (120 proof), the more likely it is to require water in my book. The proof of the sample I tried at the distillery was 120.07 proof, and that likely explains how I could take it right up without a drop of water. Even so, I doubt another point or two of abv would change much in terms of straight drinkability. This is cask strength, but still very approachable.
The flavor profile is, naturally, very similar to that of Town Branch: corn sweet with notes of citrus zest, caramel and wood. Being more intense, but still carrying a light texture, the Single Barrel bursts with sweet caramel and orange zest, and the rye spices come more to the fore, hand in hand with the woody side. In keeping with its core virtues, the finish is light.
I wouldn’t put Town Branch Single Barrel in the “big and bold” category, but it’s definitely got big personality. The more intense flavors coupled with the light finish make it ideal for summertime drinking, since I believe it will handle being on the rocks very well.
If you visit the Town Branch Distillery in Lexington, you can snag a bottle for $69.99.