By Richard Thomas
Yellowstone Limited Edition Bourbon, sourced with Luxco stock and released through Limestone Branch Distillery, is now in its third edition. Since the brand is jockeying for a place in the annual slate of exciting autumnal American Whiskey releases, it’s worth pausing to do a recap of the series so far and the people who make it before taking a look at the latest installment.
Limestone Branch Distillery is down in Lebanon, Kentucky, not far from Loretto and where Maker’s Mark hangs its hat. It’s the creation of two members of one of the state’s most illustrious whiskey dynasties, the Beams. Given that members of the Beam clan have worked in more distilleries than just the family namesake at Clermont, it’s actually not that surprising that Steve and Paul Beam (also descended from J.W. Dant) wound up with a distillery of their own. Yellowstone itself is an antique brand name that was created and distilled by the Beams and Dants roughly a century ago, so it’s only appropriate that Steve and Paul Beam are behind its revival.
Luxco is a well-established name in the broader booze business, and is the owner of Rebel Yell and Ezra Brooks. The company is erecting a distillery in Bardstown, and that facility is now in the late stages of construction. Luxco bought a stake in Limestone Branch, hence their interest in Yellowstone as well.
Yellowstone releases bear some resemblance to a Luxco product called Blood Oath, and that they are blends of distinct, constituent whiskeys of varying match bills and ages. The first Yellowstone Limited Edition was released in 2015, and that was a mix of a 12 year old bourbon, a 7 year old bourbon and a 7 year old wheated bourbon, bottled at 105 proof.
The 2016 batch was a blend of 7 and 12 year old bourbons again, but this time given a finish in toasted barrels taken from the wine industry (albeit not actually used to age wine). That made it a double barrel/toasted barrel whiskey. It was bottled at 101 proof.
This latest release departs from the previous model. In addition to the 7 and 12 year old sourced bourbons, 4 year old bourbon made by Limestone Branch is in the blend. The bourbon is then rested in charred wine casks, before bottling at 50.5% ABV (101 proof).
In the glass, Yellowstone 2017 has brown, moody amber appearance. A swish and coat leaves behind a beaded crown in just a couple of spiky, slow-moving legs. The nose is upfront with caramel and cocoa, accented by ripe cherries, a pinch of baking spice and whiff of oak.
The flavor is much spicier than the scent, picking up wood spice to add to the rye spice. It comes on with plentiful cinnamon and pepper, backed by thick caramel, a note of cherry, and a leathery quality. The finish starts darkly fruity and leathery, but this quickly falls off and leaves behind just a mild, spicy sensation. That last part runs on and on.
This is a sipper that shows good body and a little complexity, and has a character that drinkers who like their bourbon spicy will particularly enjoy.
The recommended price tag for this year’s Yellowstone Limited Edition is $100.