Mile High Spirits is back at it again with another Bottled-in-Bond release of their Fireside Bourbon. Although I have not confirmed this, it appears as if they are releasing one batch per season (a season is defined as half a year, either January-June or July-December). I had previously reviewed Batch 1 back around the summer of last year and just recently received this bottle of Batch 3 in July of this year.
Fireside Bottled In Bond; It’s all about barrel selection
The barrels that are selected for this BiB release are carefully vetted by the crew at Mile High in an effort to achieve the best flavor profile they can from their limited stocks. Most large distilleries simply create enormous batches to blend away any imperfections. Mile High does not have that luxury just yet, but I have generally found additional flavors in their BiB releases that I sometimes don’t find in their single barrel releases. This could be a result of it being proofed down or the combination of flavors each barrel brings to the table… or both.
Either way, Mile High’s Fireside series has impressed me with great flavors and high quality since they switched over to their own distillate a few years ago. Every year I try newer releases and every year I can literally taste and smell an improvement over the last. When this bottle arrived at my house a couple weeks ago, I was excited to open it up and see how much it’s changed. To my surprise, the bottle shape has changed from their traditional “giraffe neck” bottles they’ve been using the past 5+ years to the one you see in my picture. I assumed this was because of the global glass shortage and confirmed that was the case after reaching out to Mile High. One unintended perk to the bottle change is that the new style is now made in the USA, which is great to hear. So, if you’re looking for this in the store, just beware that you’re looking for a different bottle shape now.
In the past, Fireside bourbon’s character seemed to revolve around the large amount of rye grain that they used in the mash bill (around 20%). I’ve noticed that this flavor seems to be getting mellowed out more and more as it ages. Seeing as how a lot of Mile High’s whiskey turns 5 this year, it made me curious to see how this distillate is shaping up. There’s only one way to find out, let’s pour a glass and have a taste. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: The first scent that hits my nose is that of toffee. This is a really nice, sweet surprise compared to Batch 1. I also find other aromas like cooked apples sprinkled with cinnamon and a small amount of coffee grounds. The wood scent is developing more where I can start smelling some seasoned oak, but there is still a layer of sawdust that is also present. I can also find notes of honey, oregano and baker’s chocolate. These scents aren’t necessarily complimentary, but they do add extra layers to the experience.
Palate: Cooked fruits move to the front of the tongue while I’m tasting it. They’re delicious to find and are complimented by lots of spices to include cinnamon, clove and allspice. Root beer mixed with a bit of ginger ale is really unique and I’m betting that the rye grain and chocolate malted barley is responsible for the flavors within. And while I think that the distillate has shown lots of improvement from last years, there is still some bitter oak lurking around each sip. It’s not enough to detract from the session but will probably continue to transform with more age.
Finish: Lingering flavors of leather and tobacco combine with coffee notes. Ginger root combines with a bit of apple cider vinegar. This isn’t the sweetest ending to the finish, but it’s also not bitter or off-putting. There is still a complexity that seems satisfying with every sip.
Looking back at my notes to compare Batch 3 against Batch 1, I noticed a bit more fruit notes in Batch 1 overall. However, it is the increased complexity that has improved the most in this release. I also believe this batch to have a more mellow taste compared to Batch 1. I found that the root beer/ginger ale combination on the tongue was surprising and kept pulling me back in for another sip. I’m a sucker for unique flavors and this bottle has plenty of them.
Each batched release of Fireside BiB will likely have a different flavor profile than the last, but that’s half the fun in trying them. Variety is the spice of life, after all. The most important thing to note about this bottle is that it has shown that there is a consistency in the quality of product that Mile High continues to put out. The flavor profile won’t always remain as consistent as large distillers, but this batch proves that it’s not a bad thing at all. In fact, I look forward to future releases just to compare them side-by-side with each other and see what kind of profile that their blender(s) decided on. As a final note, if you crave more high proof options, then check out their barrel proof single barrels releases like this 122 proof, 5-year-old bottling that was recently released.
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