By Richard Thomas
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania is home to Bluebird Distilling, a prime example of one of the branches the rapidly expanding craft distilling scene is following. With well over a thousand micro- and nano-distilleries operating in the United States, many newcomers are either becoming very specialized or setting up not in major cities, but picturesque, oft-visited locations.
In my stomping grounds of Central Kentucky, an example of the latter is Paris’s Hartfield & Co. Phoenixville, northwest of Philadelphia, has Bluebird.
Their only bourbon is a conventional four-grain, made with corn, rye, wheat and malted barley. In a testament to the local popularity of Bluebird, the initial batch of 160 bottles sold out promptly following its release, all of it going out the front door. Bluebird Distilling Four Grain Bourbon is bottled at 46% ABV (92 proof).
Bluebird’s Four Grain Bourbon is a very light amber in the glass. It’s coloring is so light, in fact, that it’s just a little too browned to qualify as truly copper-colored. The swish and coat of the glass revealed ample and heavy tears.
The nose is quite toasty and malty, and a little musty as well. A candied spiciness is the main note in the scent, akin to the dried fruits in a very boozy fruitcake. This is accented by traces of oak and vanilla.
On the tongue, the whiskey is much oakier, presenting a strong current of musty wood. The sweetness comes in the form of spiced apricots in the main, with a teaspoon of vanilla and a trace of toastiness/char. The finish is light on warmth and turns butterscotchy, while retaining a little spiciness and woodiness.
Given the color and flavor, I am left wondering if the grain bill wasn’t heavy on malted barley or if the rye used wasn’t malted rye (or perhaps both). It certainly shows the characteristics I have come to expect from malted rye whiskeys, and certainly has a full foot outside the traditional bourbon flavor profile. So, if you want your craft whiskey to stand outside the norm, this one is a good bet.
A bottle of this interesting stuff will run you $50.