It’s been four long years since Mile High Spirits began laying down barrels of whiskey to age in their own bonded warehouse in Denver, Colorado.
During that time, they’ve patiently waited for it to come to age while selling sourced bourbon followed by younger versions of their own whiskies.
But now that some of their barrels have finally reached four years old, they are making a statement that “they have arrived” by releasing a bottled in bond bourbon to celebrate.
Bottled in Bond
The Bottled in Bond designation is seen as a stamp of quality within the industry. Along with all the laws that come with calling a bourbon by that term, the consumer can feel confident that the bourbon inside that bottle has met a variety of criteria including: being distilled during one season (a season is 6 months long in bourbon talk), aged for at least 4 years in bonded warehouses and then bottled at 100 proof.
Fireside bourbon has never been bottled at this proof before, but many of their single barrels come close. Before I go too far into my review, I’m going to refresh your memories on some of the key specs of their bourbon.
It is made on a copper pot still, aged in #3 charred white oak barrels and has a mashbill of 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% chocolate malted barley; all of which are sourced from Colorado.
Seeing as how I have only had single barrels of Fireside bourbon before, this is going to be my first experience tasting a batched product from them.
This makes me more interested because a batched product should, in theory, represent how the barrels are coming along as a whole rather than just showing me a snapshot like a single barrel would.
In the past, Fireside bourbons tended to exhibit the profile of a very high rye mashbill. So what will lowering the proof down to 100 do to the overall profile? Will the rye traits continue to dominate or will other traits take the spotlight? There’s only one way to find out. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: A literal cupboard of baking spices awaits along with some apple and raisin notes. Cinnamon, clove, allspice, nutmeg. I’m very surprised by what has developed here.
It’s nice and inviting and very different from all of the other Fireside products I’ve tried to date, but in a good way! At times, I catch a faint nutty aroma but sometimes it smells more like crushed up graham crackers. It’s odd how it shifts.
Syrupy sweet scents also make this far sweeter smelling than standard Fireside products.
Palate: Just like the nose, it’s all about the apples. Apple fritter donut, cinnamon and toasted nuts can all be found. Additionally, lemon juice, peppermint and a bit of orange marmalade hint to the rye character that you’d probably find at a higher proof.
There is a little bit of green wood that comes through on my tongue, but it could be herbal notes depending on what your palate is telling you that day.
Finish: Apple pie notes for days. Apples, cinnamon, cloves, buttery pie crust… they’re all there as the finish goes on and on. Hidden behind those flavors are the subtle flavors of mint and oak that harken back to the traditional Fireside bourbon profile.
I’m floored at how different of a product this is compared to the other Fireside labels I’ve tried. The dominating rye spice influence has almost disappeared. In its place are notes of apple pie everywhere you look.
This is quite unique! Sometimes I will second guess myself when I find green apples in a bourbon because that usually means my palate is off. But these are not green and instead come off as cooked down and caramelized with plenty of baking spices.
In a way, I’d say this is like a baby Russell’s Reserve because that is a product I most closely associate with having the possibility of apple notes within.
Being only four years old could sometimes make a whiskey taste hotter than it is. I found this to be the case with another craft distiller, Blaum Bros, whose 100 proof bourbon tasted at least 10 points higher in terms of heat and spice. And even though I generally prefer higher proofed whiskey, I find that they are more unenjoyable if they taste hotter than they should be.
But Fireside BiB’s heat is well controlled and tasted just like it should. This point should not be lost on inexperienced bourbon enthusiasts who may be buying 100 proof bottles because that is their personal sweet spot and expecting the same experience. Not all 100 proof bourbons are created equal.
Since this is only Batch 1 of this bottled-in-bond bourbon, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high by Mile High Spirits. Upcoming batches will need to have them being just as choosy when selecting the barrels. But if this batch is any indication of what they can do, those future releases are going to be just as good.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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