Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Dallas hosted a Garrison Brothers tasting tonight with Charlie Garrison and their master distiller, Donnis Todd. This was a different kind of tasting… we had 3 vintages of the same whiskey, providing an opportunity to compare releases and observe any trends represented by them. This was the lineup… all vintages of the same Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey:
Fall 2012 – A sweet nose of caramel and vanilla. A briefly sweet and bright flavor followed by grass, straw, honey, then becoming tannic and astringent. The finish is leathery, spicy and woody. Water lessens the astringent quality (only took a drop) and brings out more of the sweet flavors to produce more balance, while notes of lemon and pear appear.
Spring 2013 – Similar sweet nose with a hint of menthol and pecans. Also, a similar flavor profile, but less astringent and the finish is less bitter/tannic. Water produces a nuttier and spicier profile, but the balance isn’t maintained and the finish has more burn, bitterness and a less leathery mouthfeel.
Fall 2013 – Another great, sweet nose with more menthol. The sweetness is more subdued compared to the Fall 2012 release with less bitterness and more spice (but less of the latter than the Spring release). This one has a nicely balanced finish. Water did not bring about any appreciable change to this one.
This was a very interesting exercise and here’s how I ranked them:
- Fall 2012 – Without water, this was the worst of the bunch. With just a drop or two, a nice balance was achieved and it just edged out the Fall 2013 release with a bit bolder flavor and an added sweetness that carried through to the finish.
- Fall 2013 – Least impacted by water, this one maintained a nice balance with a bit of menthol that the Fall 2012 release lacked. Still, a bit more sweetness to balance the woody characteristic was missing from this one.
- Spring 2012 – Although it improved significantly with water, this one was far behind the other two.
At $75, I can’t recommend any of these whiskeys, but I can offer this buying advice if you want to try one… stick with the Fall releases! If you like heavily wooded bourbon (like Woodford Reserve Double Wood), then you might like this style. It’s too woody for me.