West Fork Whiskey is a relatively new local craft distillery that has had very good success with their very own rye whiskey, bourbon and other spirits. They have recently found and claimed the label of “Old Hamer” that was once a popular Indiana brand over a century ago. West Fork decided not to use their own distillate in this brand, but instead went to MGP to source it.
I do not know whether or not it was contract distilled or outright sourced, but they managed to have the Light Whiskey distillate that MGP is famous for (99% corn, 1% malted barley) and had it barreled in new charred oak barrels, which now makes it a bourbon. Aged for only 3 years, West Fork then bottles it in three different varieties to include an 80 proof bourbon, a cask strength batched bourbon and a single barrel cask strength bourbon.
So how does Old Hamer taste? For under $40, I decided it was worth it to get a bottle to find out. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: The opening of the nose is like fresh cornbread with melted whipped honey butter. The cornbread begins to turn into corn casserole. But then the fun, sweet notes come out like a bag of Halloween candy corn, vanilla cake, cinnamon and nutmeg
Palate: The palate leads into a silky caramel dipping sauce with creamed sweet corn. There’s some spice in the form of a peppery heat that lets you know it’s there. It’s simple and sweet and non-offensive, but is otherwise one dimensional.
Finish: The heat ramps up a bit with a candied Cinnamon Red Hots heat that is followed by a very surprising mouthful of cherry pie filling. Where did this come from? Almost 100% corn whiskey typically doesn’t give me any cherry flavors. And even stranger, I do begin to pick up some oaky notes towards the end of my glass. Strange for a 3 year old whiskey!
What is interesting is I’ve had young MGP Light Whiskey at cask strength and aged in used barrels like it usually is, but West Fork stumbled onto something here, and that is that putting the light whiskey mashbill into new barrels really helps develop the sweetness and taste. It has transformed a one dimensional whiskey into something much deeper and fun.
The sweetness and corn notes aren’t boring, but they’re kind of fun to see how many corn products and recipes you can pick out while tasting this. And that’s what makes this a great buy in my opinion. It’s unique enough, it’s a great value and you get to support a local distillery. This is enough to earn my recommendation!
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)
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.