I’ve been fascinated with the practices of some Scotch whisky makers who finish their spirits in wine and port casks. When I discovered that Rough Rider Bourbon uses a similar process – aging the spirit first in charred casks and then in wine casks, I decided to give it a try to determine whether or not the more complex process would change (in a good or bad way) the character of bourbon.
I picked up a bottle of Batch #4 to review:
Appearance. Not surprisingly (given the different barrel aging process), Rough Rider has a different appearance than most whiskeys. It has a more pronounced red color in the bottle (like a rye), but comes off almost goldenrod in the glass. I’d call it “orange” if pressed. It also looks unusually thin in the glass; I’m not sure why.
Nose. Each time I try I glass, I get something different. Cherry in one sitting, caramel in another, wood in yet another. Sometime, I even pick up brandy overtones.
Taste. The first glass I tasted was stronger up front than most, with a burn that lingered. In fact, the burn was so strong, it made the work of picking up the more subtle (and quite good) flavors hiding beneath it. With future pours, I have been able to pick up quite a variety of flavors: brandy, red wine, baking spice, maybe a hint of citrus, wood, and some cherry. Regarding the finish, if not for the more pronounced burn, I would think I was tasting the finish of something more like a port than a bourbon.
Overall. This is a bourbon I’ll need to contemplate for a few more pours. Fortunately, it’s not terribly pricey. At about $35/bottle, this bourbon is affordable enough to contemplate for a while. I’ll give it a 4/5.