For my last bourbon review of 2012, I am reviewing Berkshire Bourbon, a local Massachusetts bourbon from Berkshire Mountain Distillers. Berkshire Mountain Distillers currently make six different products, two gins, a vodka, a rum, a bourbon, and a straight corn whiskey. The bourbon is bottled at 86 proof; there is no age statement given, but I do not think this is much older than 5 years. It is readily available in Massachusetts, but its availability decreases the further one ventures from the snowy New England landscape.
The nose is the highlight of this whiskey for me. It is quite hearty and dense, with notes of sweet corn, dessert cheese, candied walnuts, and dense caramel. However, the whiskey goes downhill from there. The palate is light-bodied, with dense corn providing the backbone. There is a little orange peel and vanilla, but it does not present a lot of complexity. The finish is short, with some lingering caramel and sweet corn.
Overall, this might be a nice whiskey for mixing, but I am not a fan of this whiskey on its own. I am inclined to agree with Ralfy’s end of the year comments on the whisk(e)y world in 2012 when it comes to micro/craft distilleries. It is important to release a good product on the first go round, because you only get one chance to make a good impression. Too often, micro-distilleries are too anxious to put a product on the shelves that they whiskey gets bottled before it is ready. It might be better to follow the High West or Willett model and source whiskey until you have a homemade product that you can confidently stamp your name on.
Berkshire Bourbon did not impress me, and it will take something special for me to return to this bourbon any time soon. Honestly, if you like a simple, sweet bourbon, save the money and pick up some Evan Williams Black Label. However, that is not to say that all craft/micro distilleries are bottling sub-par whiskey. I hope to have a few reviews in the coming months that demonstrate that you don’t have to be a big Kentucky Distillery to make great whiskey. My grade for Berkshire Bourbon: C. Price: $30-35/750ml. Not terrible, but certainly not worth the money.
That concludes my final bourbon review of 2012, but the New Year will bring some new reviews, and some new posts. In the meantime, I will again turn to Ralfy for my parting thoughts. Enjoy the mystery of whisk(e)y, and seek that same mystery of sensory adventure in all other areas of life, whether it be food, drink, flowers, or everyday life. If you concentrate on the senses around you, it is hard to slip into monotony. Happy New Year and let it ride!