DSR – FL – 001: Florida Straight Bourbon
Company/Distillery: St. Augustine Distillery Co.
Location: St. Augustine, Florida
Mash Bill: 60% Florida Corn, 22% Barley and 18% Florida Wheat
Age Statement: Aged 3 Years
Proof/ABV: 88 Proof/ 44% ABV
Color: Light honey/straw
Purchase Price: $49.99 from Fine Wine & Spirits ABC, Sarasota, FL 7/22/2020; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“St. Augustine Distillery Co.”
“St. Augustine Distillery Co.”
“Florida Straight Bourbon”
“Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Fresh From Florida”
“Etched Photo of Historic FP&L Ice Plant”
“Distilled, Aged & Bottled by St. Augustine Distillery Co., St. Augustine, FL U.S.A”
“Aged 3 Years”
St. Augustine Distillery Co.
The St. Augustine Distillery Co. was co-founded in 2013 by Philip McDaniel and Mike Diaz. Mr. McDaniel is retired from the St. John’s County Florida Cultural Council and Tourist Development Council. Mr. Diaz is a retired investor. Both men were looking for opportunities to invest in the city of St. Augustine and its history of being the oldest city in the United States. Within a few years of making an agreement to partner up and build a distillery, the duo, along with many investors, purchased the historic FP&L Ice Plant as their new distillery home. Originally built in 1907, the FP&L Ice Plant served as St. Augustine’s first power and ice facility. If being the first ice production facility in Florida wasn’t historical enough, the FP&L Ice Plant also became home to Florida’s first bourbon distillery.
In order to help get the distillery off the ground, McDaniel and Diaz turned to a giant in the distilling industry, Dave Pickerell. Mr. Pickerell, who was formally the Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark and well known for his work at Whistle Pig, would assist St. Augustine Distillery in designing the distillery as well as the blending of spirits. St. Augustine Distillery also consulted with Jake Norris, founding distiller of Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. Mr. Norris would assist St. Augustine’s in the development of the recipe that is still used today.
In February 2020, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) awarded Mr. McDaniel with the Dave Pickerell Memorial Craft Member of the Year award. This award recognized McDaniel for his role in assisting with getting the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act through Congress. This act is responsible for, “substantially lowering the federal excise tax for breweries, wineries, and distilleries.” (Source: National Distillers Organization Recognizes St. Augustine Distillery Co-Founder by Alex Wilson)
In addition to their Florida Straight Bourbon, St. Augustine Distillery also produces Port Finished Bourbon, The Saint Bourbon, Pot Distilled Rum, New World Gin, Florida Cane Vodka, and several other limited release offerings.
Florida Straight Bourbon
Florida Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a non-chill filtered bourbon made with a mash bill of 60% Florida corn, 22% barley, and 18% Florida wheat. The entire distillation process of grinding grains, making mash, fermentation, and distilling the bourbon, occurs on-site at St. Augustine Distillery. After distillation in their pot still, St. Augustine ages the bourbon for a minimum of 3 years in 53 gallon charred new oak barrels. Small batches of 16 to 40 barrels are then expertly blended together before being bottled by hand.
Tasting Date/Vessel: July 26, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: Bright, crisp and sweet. Very slight hint of wheat grain on the nose. As I continue, fresh ground cinnamon, vanilla beans, and an ever so slight hint of rosemary become apparent. In addition, some fruitiness like apple or pear are noticeable but not quite discernible. Water brings a sweet tobacco and caramel aroma forward. I love this profile.
Mike: Dried fruit (similar to raisins) and brown sugar emerge at the onset. Hints of fresh oatmeal that succumb to a fruity wine-like aroma materialize. Very delicate tobacco and hay fragrances round things out. Overall a very light and inviting nose.
Christian: This bourbon brings a super light and airy mouth feel. A quick rush of cinnamon, caramel, and brown sugar hit the palate. A light hint of green apple is present. Reminds me of an apple pie that is more on the savory side without the sweet sugary pie filling. Water keeps the mouth feel very soft. Sweetness increases with more toasted brown sugar, but a noticeable addition of cloves becomes present.
Mike: Gentle and crisp with a cinnamon bite on the front. Honey and caramel flavors develop nicely in the mouth then close with an aromatic toasted oak zest.
Christian: The finish is very smooth and short. Tobacco and cinnamon carry through with a stone fruit, maybe mango, arriving as flavors begin to dissipate. Really refreshing pour. Water doesn’t change much in the finish, but the flavor profile is similar to that of a cinnamon apple oatmeal. Mango remains in the aftertaste.
Mike: Quick, short finish. Graceful and smooth with minimal burn. Just a pleasant warmness that consumes the throat.
Christian: I was not totally sure what to expect as we went into this tasting. St. Augustine is not readily available in North Carolina and very few folks in the area are familiar with it. That should change! St. Augustine Distillery provides a straight bourbon that starts with a pleasant, sweet, and aromatic nose. The nose gives way to a delightful and savory apple pie experience on the palate. The finish is satisfying and well rounded with sweet tobacco and cinnamon. I REALLY LIKE THIS. The price isn’t horrible, but it’s a little high for the age and proof of the bourbon. If you are in Florida, I recommend picking some up and giving it a try! Maybe even call your favorite bourbon reviewers (Rickhouse Ramblings) to see if we need some brought back to North Carolina.
Rating: 3.5 Rickhouses
Mike: I was pleasantly surprised by this bourbon. This offering exhibits all the classic bourbon flavors, with just a touch more delicacy. This is a balanced and easy drinking bourbon–a “session” bourbon, if you will.
The price, including Florida tax, was $53.49, which is a little steep considering this whiskey comes in at 88 proof. It does carry a 3 year age statement which is an added bonus. I’d like to see this offering have a 100 proof, aged an extra year, and contain a Bottled in Bond statement. This would make the price point a little more justifiable.
I would definitely recommend giving this a try if you’re traveling down South and like to support local distilleries with great products.
Rating: 3.0 Rickhouses
Conclusion: Neither of us knew what to expect going into this bourbon review this week. We really enjoyed sipping this bourbon neat. The aromas, flavor profile, and finish were all very pleasant and approachable. A smooth sipper worth giving trying when you are in Florida. We put a hurting on this bottle during the review – which typically is a sign of a quality tasting bourbon. We would definitely keep a bottle around if it were available in our area.