Located in Weston, MO almost equidistance between Amelia Earhart’s birthplace and downtown Kansas City on the eastern side of the Missouri River, Ben Holladay may be a new name in the bourbon community, but it is a distillery with a long history.
Let’s first decipher what Missouri Straight Bourbon is before more on Ben Holladay. To be called Missouri Bourbon, the product must meet specific requirements:
- The product shall be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled in Missouri;
- The product shall be aged in oak barrels manufactured in Missouri;
- Lastly, effective the first day of 2020, to qualify as a Missouri labeled Bourbon or Bourbon Whiskey, the mash must contain 100% Missouri-grown corn.
Let’s pull that thread, is there another state that has these requirements for using the state’s name? This is a discussion for another thread, but off the top of my head I believe this may be the first state that focus what is called Missouri Bourbon, seemingly taking a page from the AVA regions for wine labeling. Let’s remember that the first AVA in the United States was the Augusta AVA in the region of August, MO gaining status in 1980.
It is worth noting the Holladay Distillery is owned my McCormick Distilling Company, which produces a wide variety of products. The organization has an advantage over other startups in navigating the process, production, and distribution of a new product, however, that does not ensure that quality will be represented with the final product. I would suggest that you take a look at the history of Holladay Distillery, https://holladaybourbon.com/history/, because there is so much more to learn about the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River.
This is a 6-year BiB and now having a basic understanding of bourbon naming requirements for the state of Missouri, the mash is 100% local corn and the whole process from mash to bottling take place in state. The Bottled-in-Bond designation also highlights the bourbon being distilled, aged, and bottled on the same location. Ben Holladay keeps their bourbon resting for an additional 2 years from the minimum 4, impressive for the new kid on the block.
The trend with new American Whiskey brands and labels, in my opinion, is not being transparent. Ben Holladay destroys that notion with more information on the label than one could ever expect. The distilled season is listed along with the day the bourbon was bottled. There is also a key showing the percentage of bourbon from each floor of Rickhouse C. I will be tasting a bourbon bottled on 9 March 2023, the first not including the fifth floor, with 68% from the third floor, 22% the second, and 10% the fourth. The enthusiast can go their site and see even more details about this release. A total of 68 barrels were used to create the BiB and Rickhouse releases with an Angel Share of 30.2%. To learn more, head over to their website and check out the Distillers Journal.
Notes: March 2023 Bottle
Nose: Complex, oak, dark caramel that has been given the time to dampen the upfront sugar. There is a hint of baking spices with cinnamon peeking through the most. I am brought back to waking up on snowed in mornings to the smell of homemade, just out of the oven, cinnamon rolls.
Taste: Just as you would expect, true to the noise, no surprise. One can sense the passion for the bourbon by the team behind out, it was not rushed out the door. The baking spices sneak up on you with the finish, which remains for a few moments. The dark, oaky hints play throughout the tasting experience, giving the impression this is something special.
Finish: This is a BiB that does not disappoint. I typically find that BiB offerings are perfect for cocktails or a light old fashion. There only a few offerings where I truly want to enjoy it night after night, excited to share it with other enthusiasts, but also believing it would be a great entry bourbon for the non-enthusiast.
Evaluation: Q1, no downgrades. Qualified for flight. Aged to Distinction!
Price: I purchased for $52 in Texas over the holidays.