By Debbie Shocair
As a girl who hails from Texas, I’m not sure I can fairly convey my excitement at the craft whiskeys coming out of the Lone Star State, but I can tell you much of it is good; fairly, unabashedly so, in fact. Certainly the rash of new American Malts running through Whiskeydom is knocking things up and raising a buzz, including what is being made at Texas’s Yellow Rose Distilling.
As Houston Farris of Yellow Rose production says, “American Single Malt whiskey as a category is a difficult venture to begin with. Most people know the style only by way of Scotland, so the calling something a malt whiskey in the States is largely outside of their experience. By bringing something like this to market, you have both the opportunity to introduce consumers to a new category while also defining it for them.” The freedom to define it has done well for Yellow Rose. Farris goes on to say, “As a craft distiller, we have the freedom to tweak variables such as what types of malted barley we mash to the barrels we mature the whiskey in, even choosing to add another barrel type to finish the matured whiskey. It will be a lot of fun trying new ways to make a better product with each run.”
Yellow Rose Distillers uses a combination of 3-, 5- and 10-gallon barrels to mature their whiskies. This grants a shorter maturation time and less loss to the Angel’s Share in The Lone Star State’s high heat and humidity. In the case of this malt whiskey, they have chosen to mimic the Scottish route by combining their pot distillation with the use of ex-bourbon barrels for the first round of maturation, followed by a finish in old Port casks.
On the nose, YR single malt was awash with caramel and dusty toasted oak, dark berry jam and low notes of filberts. Breaking it with a ½ teaspoon of water made the nuttiness come forward, followed by the fruit jam, while the dusty toasted oak still remained prominent.
The mouthfeel was only at the back of the palate, which is fair for a standard 80 proof product.
The finish was lovely: bright, spicy, oaky, and then sweet, ending with clear notes of coffee and licorice.
While it may not be available in retail stores near you yet, it is available online and is certainly worth the $50 price. This is one of the new American whiskies that will surely be setting standards in the coming years.