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As North Star ready Batch No. 3 of their exquisite range of spirits, I take a final look at Batch 2 in the form of this 13-year-old Whiskey from Tennessee…
North Star Spirits is an independent bottler founded in 2016 by Iain Croucher, formerly of A.D. Rattray. They launched with a series of excellent single cask whiskies from distilleries like Arran, Tormore, Glenrothes and Port Dundas, then followed up with a second batch in the summer of 2017 that featured a blended malt, a fortified wine from Montilla and a Tennessee Whiskey from a mysterious, undisclosed distillery.
Tennessee and whiskey have a history that spans centuries but in spite of this, the state’s relationship with the spirit has not always been a happy one. Even today, only 9 counties allow the sale of alcohol. On the face of it, this appears an odd situation for the home of Jack Daniel’s, arguably the most famous whiskey brand in the world.
Although at first, whiskey made in Tennessee may appear identical to Bourbon, with a mashbill (grain recipe) of 51% corn and a minimum maturation of 2 years in fresh, virgin oak casks. There are, however, some quirks in the production process that are said to separate the two. The main claim relates to a technique known as the ‘Lincoln County Process‘, a practice that originated at the Jack Daniel distillery. It involves filtering spirit through charcoal wood chips before filling into barrels for ageing and allegedly makes the whiskey unique from that which is produced elsewhere in the States. In truth, however, there is nothing that prevents someone from using this process in the production of bourbon. In fact, some do. It seems like the decision to call your product a Tennessee whiskey rather than a bourbon is simply a matter of choice, rather than there being any particular difference between the two.
North Star have bottled this Tennessee whiskey at 13 years old and at a strength of 51.1% abv.
Smell: Vanilla and Oak Spice, Toffee and Sherbet-like Confectionary notes.
Taste: Syrupy texture on the palate with notes of Oak, Honey and Caramel, Brown Sugar & a touch of Orange.
Thoughts: I am predominantly a Scotch drinker and don’t buy much American whiskey so I’m maybe a wee bit unqualified to talk about the price of this bottle. I’ll give it a shot, though. £84 isn’t cheap but 13 seems a good old age for a bourb… sorry, Tennessee whiskey. Certainly my untrained palate thoroughly enjoyed the dram.
Sometimes I feel like the whiskey of the States can be somewhat lacking in complexity when compared to that produced in the rest of the world but if you seek a big, bold mouthful of flavour, you could do a lot worse than check out this release from North Star Spirits. This is a bottler that has quickly and deservedly gained a reputation for quality and diversity in the spirit they choose to release. Single casks can be notoriously hit and miss. North Star have veered strongly toward the former.