New whiskey producers have three options when they begin their journey into the exciting and terrifying world of launching a whiskey brand.
The first one is that they can create their own brand and make their own product (Frey Ranch, Starlight Distillery, Catoctin Creek), the second is that they can obtain the name of a previous distillery/brand and use their own product (Peerless, Black Maple Hill) and the third option is they can obtain a previous distillery name/brand and use a sourced product (Old Par, Cream of Kentucky, Yellowstone).
Hotaling Group took the third path by obtaining the name “Hirsch” (a well-known and respected name among whiskey enthusiasts) and sourcing the whiskey that would go in it.
A.H. Hirsch Whiskey
The history of the original A.H. Hirsch Whiskey actually followed the same path that Hotaling is taking these days. In a nutshell, a brand was established that did not distill or age the whiskey that it bottled, but instead they purchased it from a reputable distiller and then bottled it when the time came.
In 2020, Hirsch: The Horizon was launched after some significant redesigning of the packaging and blending together two different 5+ year old MGP bourbon mashbills.
The packaging does not use a wine bottle shape like the Hirsch of the early 90’s, but rather one that appears more squarish, like a flask.
A raised sextant emblem on the sides of the glass as well as raised and sunken lines along the sides and top provides a premium look.
But enough about the packaging; what most buyers are going to want to know is how good the whiskey is inside of it. So let’s take a taste and find out. I sampled this neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: The nose starts out with classic bourbon flavors of caramel and oak. There are some cherry scents as well as the scent of melting butter on top of cinnamon raisin toast. It’s a really nice nose that doesn’t overwhelm with proof.
Palate: Rye spices such as cinnamon and clove mingle with fruit-forward notes of citrus and black cherries. The mouthfeel is slightly creamy with sweet notes everywhere.
A nice touch of brown sugar and vanilla are followed by some light tannic notes of oak and leather.
Finish: After the sip is complete, a sweet caramel finish with some peppery afterburn linger around. The finish is not too complex, but it is nice and rounded.
For being only 92 proof, I was surprised that some additional heat could be found on the finish but it was still pleasant overall.
Much like the blocky shape of the bottle, Hirsch: The Horizon will offer a solid building-block to a portfolio of products that I assume the parent company has planned.
I know many will say that this is a bourbon that “can make a good cocktail” but I think that’s underselling it a bit.
Throughout the session I had with it, I found it to be perfectly competent and flavorful by itself in a glass. The proof may be low, but not ever bourbon is designed to bulldoze your tastebuds like most modern-day barrel proof bourbons.
And finally, the price point seemingly undercuts or at least matches many direct competitors such as Belle Meade Small Batch, Smoke Wagon Straight Bourbon and Boone County Small Batch.
So if you’re an MGP fanboy like me, Hirsch’s new bourbon should deliver everything you’re looking for in a daily sipper. I’m also excited to see what else gets released under this brand in the years to come.
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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