Local Indianapolis distillery West Fork Whiskey has been experimenting with their Old Hamer lineup lately. Initially, the craft distillery began to source a unique “high-corn” mashbill from MGP to supplement their own distillate as it continues to come of age.
Then they began to tinker with barrel-finishing when they launched their “Hugh Hamer” line. Now in 2021, the barrels have started to hit the four year-old mark which usually shows if the distillate inside has started to round the corner towards a more mature profile..
In previous years, Old Hamer could only be found bottled at 80 proof or cask strength (to include single barrel cask strength). But there always seemed to be a tier that was not being utilized by this brand; a “middle of the road” proof that wouldn’t get washed away in a cocktail and still held enough flavor to be drank neat. West Fork Whiskey’s answer was to bottle Old Hamer at 100 proof.
So now that I have a bottle of their new label, how does it taste? Is it worth your time? Let’s find out. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: The initial scents of fresh cornbread, Flan and candy corn make total sense for a bourbon made from basically all corn. But I bet you wouldn’t consider finding notes of floral perfume on the nose. This has it though, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s also some cinnamon scents that add a nice kick of spice.
Palate: The cinnamon spice intensifies on the palate along with a nice hit of tannic oak and cloves. Sweet flavors come from candy corn and, strangely, Easter Peeps. Look hard enough and you’ll also find a hint of cherries.
Finish: Lingering flavors of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, oak spice, and a handful of O’ Henry! candies make the finish a sweet and slightly spicy affair. Add in some lingering notes of toffee and it leaves little doubt that this sipper is going to be pleasantly sweet every time.
The real draw of Old Hamer 100 Proof is that it’s nicely balanced and is competitively priced among other “small” batched 100 proof bourbons on the shelves. But to set it apart from the competition, it utilizes a unique mashbill and guarantees a sweet sip that doesn’t try to be flashy.
In fact, balance and consistency are the strongest cards that it plays. Knowing that it’s also non-chill filtered makes it stand out on a shelf filled with Bottled-in-Bond offerings from Heaven Hill. The only thing about the Heaven Hill products is that can sometimes those can come off as thin and slightly harsher in flavor. Old Hamer has a much thicker and richer profile that justifies the extra money.
This bourbon is a safe bet in a crowded field of sourced whiskey. Many times those producers try to disguise the fact of where the bourbon comes from. West Fork Whiskey doesn’t hold back and shares the open secret with anyone that they source this from MGP. So the secret with Old Hamer is that there is no secret. If you’re a fan of bourbon “from the largest distillery in Indiana,” you can be assured of the quality you’re going to get. And that makes this whiskey a great value.
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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