The first decision any new distillery/brand must make is what their name will be. This decision may be the most important thing that they will ever do. Starting off with a great name that consumers can relate to could guarantee the early success for any brand.
But pick a name that people can’t relate to and your product will probably set on the shelf. This is why more new brands are resurrecting old, defunct labels. The whiskey community is thirsty to hear a good story and fall into the nostalgia that comes with it.
Scotti’s Springs founder, Doug Scotti, was lucky that he was scrolling through an online whiskey auction website one day and happened across a bottle that bore his family name. He took this find to his family and found out that he did have family ties with that exact bourbon.
You see, his grandfather had started up his own liquor store in St. Louis back around the 1930s or 40’s. Not only was he selling the popular brands of the time, but he also decided to have his very own bourbon brand that he could sell to his customers as well.
Scotti’s Springs Bourbon
The Scotti’s Springs Bourbon of yesteryear was sourced from the now-defunct Glencoe Distillery in Kentucky and wore a 6 year old age statement. Doug was so enamored by all of this, that he decided that he should resurrect the brand. Only this time, he wanted to make his own bourbon instead of sourcing it from another distillery.
Opening a distillery these days seems almost like the en vogue thing to do. So Doug needed a way to make his distillery stand out from the crowd. Since he was local to California, he decided to distill and bottle his own whiskey right there in the city of El Segundo.
He chose a ryed-bourbon mashbill (like most distilleries do) but decided to use purple malted barley in the mashbill rather than the standard beige malted barley variety that almost all other distilleries use.
No reason is given why he chose this particular grain, but he must have done his research and determined that it would make a difference. Since I’ve never had a whiskey that has used purple malted barley in it, I was curious as to what effect it would have on the distillate.
Before I begin, I must note that this appears to be a single barrel release based on the fact it has a handwritten “Cask 2” on the label. So if your bottle is not from cask 2, then you may experience a little bit of variation from my notes. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: The nose is initially very youthful in character but it does have some really unique notes. The scent of Lavender is something I have never came across in a bourbon (or any whiskey for that matter) and it pairs up with notes like cinnamon candle, corn pudding and unbaked pie dough.
I also find a tiny bit of grape pixie stick and root beer bottle candies. It’s a really unique nose that makes me want to keep smelling the glass because it is very much unlike any other whiskey I’ve smelled.
Palate: This is only a 90 proof bourbon but it drinks much hotter than that. Notes of spiced molasses, Cinnamon Red Hots and peppercorns/red pepper flakes light up your taste buds while ethanol and grains let you know that it probably could have used a little bit more time in the barrel.
But even though youthful flavors are the main players here, it’s the unique notes like flat grape soda, spiced tea and a bouquet of flowers that perk up each sip with something unique and new that you don’t always find in everyday bourbon.
Finish: There’s a long list of spices that settle onto your tongue and into your cheeks after the sip is complete to include cinnamon, allspice, clove and anise. Mint leaf and charred wood stick around too and are accompanied by a small amount of sweetness.
There’s no getting around that this was a youthful craft whiskey. And I don’t think Scotti Springs is necessarily hiding this fact either. Their rear label states that it is aged at least two years (the minimum to be called a straight bourbon). For all of the youthful notes that I experienced, I will say that the nose became a lot more enjoyable as the drink went on. The flavors on the tongue did not.
As my notes stated, this bottle has some of the most unique noses I’ve found in a whiskey. That unfortunately did not translate too much on my tongue where I also found the mouthfeel to be too thin.
Sometimes a thin mouthfeel and youthful tastes can be remedied by increasing the proof that the whiskey is bottled at. But part of me thinks that this whiskey may not have benefited from more proof because the heat was already showing itself even at the low proof point it was at.
Overall, the bourbon in this bottle shows some potential to get better with age. I don’t say that about a lot of craft whiskies either because sometimes if they lack sweetness or complexity from the start, there’s no hope for them in the future.
But Scotti’s does have some of the traits of a much more complex whiskey if it could only age for longer. I can see myself enjoying what the lavender/grape scents and grape soda/spiced tea flavors would become with another 2 to 4 years of age and maybe a higher proof. Keep an eye on Scotti’s Springs over the next 2 years because the potential is there for the bourbon inside to make a name for itself with just a little bit more age.
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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