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. The company launched with a series of wonderful single cask whiskies from distilleries like Arran, Tormore, Glenrothes and Port Dundas, then followed up with a second batch in the summer of 2017 which was complimented with the addition of a blended malt, a fortified wine from Montilla and a Tennessee Whiskey from an 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 quirks in the production process that are said to separate the two. The main difference is in the deployment of a technique known as the ‘Lincoln County Process‘ – a practice that originated at the Jack Daniel distillery which sees spirit filtered through charcoal wood chips before being transported to barrells for ageing. This, and of course, distillation in the state of Tennessee allegedly make the whiskey unique from that which is produced elsewhere in the States. There are also those however, who state that there is nothing to prevent distillers from using a similar system and still calling their spirit Bourbon, so it seems the matter simply boils down to a matter of choice.
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.
Value for Money: I must admit that I am predominantly a scotch drinker and so feel a little unqualified to justify the price of this dram which, at £84 is certainly not cheap. 13 years old is a fair old age for Tennessee however, where the Angel’s Share can be more than double that of Scotland. In any case, it’s clear to even my untrained palate that this is a very fine dram indeed.
Score: 43 / 50.
Sometimes I think the produce of the States can be somewhat lacking in complexity when compared to whisk(e)y from the rest of the world but if you seek a bold mouthful of flavour, you could do a lot worse than check out this release from North Star Spirits, a bottler who has quickly and deservedly gained a reputation for exceptional quality and diversity in the product they choose to put out to market.
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