By Debbie Shocair
At Black Button Distilling in Rochester, NY, Jason Barrett began pursuing his dream in 2012, that of striving to make the fine art of distilled spirits his way of life. Coming from a family whose four-generation button-making business provided the moniker for his spirits company, he broke with family tradition and began his own distillery at the tender age of 24. Producing small batch products grain-to glass, Barrett is keen on “Living large in small batches.”
“My distillery pays homage to my grandfather and the world he knew – where real men worked hard and drank real pot distilled whiskey,” say Barrett. Whiskey was, at one time, the choice of “real men,” and now has risen to a height of popularity and crossed demographics in a way that few products do. This foray is a Port-Finished, Barrel Strength, Single Barrel Straight Bourbon (say that mouthful three times fast), bottled unfiltered at an intrepid 110.8 proof.
This port-finished bourbon began as a wheat-heavy, four grain bourbon – 60% corn/20% wheat/9% rye/11% barley. Aged for a minimum of two years, it was then aged an additional year in port wine casks sourced from Port of NY Winery in Ithaca, NY. Says Barrett, “This spirit, made with the best local ingredients, truly represents the best of what Black Button Distilling has to offer.” It is available in very limited release -only 312 bottles available.
On the nose, Black Button’s Port-Finished Bourbon was at first quite grassy – an unusual aroma I normally associate with good rye whiskey. It was very enjoyable, and was followed by distinct cherry and lemon notes.
Breaking the bourbon with a ½ teaspoon of water brought the lemon notes right to the front, with underlying, very low notes of caramel. The mouthfeel was right at the center of the tongue – again, somewhat unusual. Not too harsh, even at 110.8 proof. Just a bright, spicy tingle.
The finish was surprising. Chocolate…followed by dark chocolate, then coffee and spicy lemon. That’s a thing, right? Spicy lemon? It was the chocolate that lingered to the end of the medium finish.
I love an interesting whiskey, and what I enjoyed in this one was the strong cherry notes in the nose and the very strong chocolate notes in the finish. This is one worthy of discussion among your whiskey-loving friends.
Available only in 375ml bottles, about $100, at the Black Button Tasting Room or fine liquor stores in Rochester, Buffalo and Western NY. You might try online as well.