DSR – NC – 008: Broad Branch Nobilium
Company/Distillery: Broad Branch Distillery
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Mash Bill: Heirloom Corn, rye, malted barley, LA cane, and hops
Age Statement: NAS (website indicates rested 2 years)
Proof/ABV: 87 Proof/ 43.5% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Nice Amber hue; Oily coating on glass
Purchase Price: $48.95 from NC ABC store August 2020; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“The Original Master Distiller Frank Williams”
“Initial Distillation 07.09.15”
“Moon Phase Waning Crescent”
“Broad Branch Nobilium”
“Small Batch | Premium Cut | No Chill Filtering”
“3 Barrel Master Blend”
“Barrel matured spirits distilled from a mash of grains, cane, & hops”
“The Trinity Effect”
“Like the trailblazers before us, we honor tradition by pushing boundaries. NOBILIUM is a direct descendant of the Preston Williams family’s 120-year distilling legacy. In this three barrel blended composition, hints of maple, dried apple, and vanilla converge with delicious results.”
“Our fearlessly crafted spirits are mashed, distilled, and bottled onsite in Forsyth County, NC FOR DISCERNING DRINKERS WHO GIVE A DAMN. LIKE YOU.”
“Branch out. Dive In.”
“Handmade and pot distilled from heirloom corn, rye, and malted barley mash, hops, LA sugars, and Artesian Blue Ridge Mountain Well Water.”
“Produced and bottled by Broad Branch Distillery of Winston Salem, NC.”
Broad Branch Distillery
Founded in 2014, by Partners Nick Doumas and John Fragakis, Broad Branch Distillery is located in the Arts District of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The distillery started with its NIGHTLAB 1.0 Moonshine, based on Frank Williams’ recipe from Allegheny County, NC. Broad Branch Head Distillers, Joe Tappe and Don Jenkins, have since expanded the selection of products made by the distillery to include the following: Rye Fidelity 100% Rye Mash; SUNGRAZER Southern Craft Rum; SUPERCOLLIDER Pear Rye Whiskey; NOBILIUM 3 Barrel Master Blend; SMASHING VIOLET Craft Infusion. At the time of this review, the distillery has plans to release a bourbon in 2020.
Rickhouse Ramblings was able to spend a couple of hours with distiller Don Jenkins. Don showed us the entire operation – including the grinding of grains, the massive boiler, the giant water tank holding Blue Ridge Mountain Artesian well water, the still, and the barrel storage area. After spending a few minutes with Mr. Jenkins, one thing became abundantly clear – Broad Branch Distilling sees the operation as not only an art but also a science. Mr. Jenkins was a wealth of knowledge, excited to share the science of distilling and aging with a couple of bourbon “nerds” like us. His explanation of the molecular changes in wood and the spirit during the aging process was both informative and fascinating. You can experience a brief clip here.
If you live in Winston-Salem or plan on visiting soon, we recommend adding a stop by Broad Branch. The tasting room has a terrific view of the distillery and the staff is ready to share the details of each product on the menu. Even in the time of COVID-19, they have taken several precautions to ensure a pleasant experience including quaint outdoor seating and distillery made sanitizer. Check out their website here.
Nobilium 3 Barrel Master Blend
Broad Branch Distillery creates its Nobilium 3 Barrel Master Blend using the same recipe and distilling methods as its Nightlab 1.0 clear whiskey. A mash bill of heirloom corn, rye, malted barley, hops, and LA cane sugar is prepared using Blue Ridge Mountain artesian well water. The major difference in the two is that Nobilium is aged for a minimum of 2 years in European oak barrels. After aging, Broad Branch Distiller Don Jenkins carefully blends three barrels, thus creating Nobilium 3 Barrel Master Blend.
Tasting Date/Vessel: September 6, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian: My first nose was pretty deep into my Glencairn glass and brought a strong hit of ethanol. As I moved the glass farther away, the flavors really began to develop nicely. Warm maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla bean take center stage. Overall, this pour has a pleasant, sweet, and inviting nose. Water really brightens the flavors. Maple syrup becomes more pronounced with the addition of honey and brown sugar. This nose is extremely pleasing.
Mike: Warm maple syrup delicately emerges from the glass followed by sweet notes of honey. Nosing in deeper, fresh vanilla bean aromas subtly develop then fade into ground coriander and melted caramels. A quick swirl releases a punch of orange citrus then rounds out with an oily citrus rind fragrance. The overall nose is rather soft.
Christian: Nobilium has a thin and soft mouth feel. The whiskey shows its youth with the first sip. As I continue to sip, loads of oak/wood and leather punch my palate. These strong, pronounced flavors develop deeper into hints of allspice, barley, and oatmeal. Adding water makes the mouth transition to a silky smooth feel. Oak and leather are still prominent, however, hints of vanilla become apparent. I absolutely don’t mind the change in flavors with the addition of water.
Mike: Very light mouth feel on the tongue with the typical heat associated with that of young whiskies. A sweet flavor of canned pears appears, then almost immediately, it dissipates. As the taste moves to the back of the mouth and tongue, I begin to pick up the flavor of store-bought maraschino cherries. Dried apple flavors linger and a dry cider tang is leftover.
Christian: Nobilium provides a medium finish with a nice warm hug. A slight bitterness is noticeable, perhaps from the hops, along with a bold hint of spice from the rye. A nice apple flavor arrives late on the finish as the other flavors begin to fade. Water really dampers down the bitterness without impacting the length and hug provided by this spirit. Brown sugar and cinnamon are present, with apples showing up fashionably late to the party.
Mike: This pour finishes abruptly with that young aged burn being rather pronounced. I then experienced a close that contained a pleasant, leathery aftertaste.
Christian: Nobilium leaves no doubt that it only has a couple years in the barrel. The flavors are really starting to develop nicely and could be a force to be reckoned with if left aging for a little longer. I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet nose on this pour. Unlike some other bourbons and whiskeys we’ve reviewed, a drop of water really opens up the nose and flavors on the palate. The bitterness disappears in the finish without losing the other strong qualities of the pour. I think I will continue to enjoy this pour with the addition of water or a cube of ice–something you are not likely to hear me say very often. Nobilium is a strong and delicious offering from a local distiller and I’m looking forward to what Broad Branch Distillery continues to produce in the coming years. It’s always an added bonus when the distillery is located just minutes from one’s home!
Rating: 3.0 Rickhouses
Mike: This offering from Broad Branch is an aged expression of their Nightlab 1.0, which I have come to enjoy a great deal. As I step up on my soapbox, I find this young bourbon as an adequate offering from Broad Branch, but I really want to taste this after being aged for another 2-4 years. I know I sound like a broken record, but there is something to be said for a bourbon with some age on it. Nobilium has a ton of potential. The addition of hops in the mash bill is very unique and although I cannot quite distinguish the flavors imparted by the hops, their presence does something to the overall character of the spirit. The young age coupled with a slightly higher price than your average whiskey, might hinder some from trying this. While understandable, this is something I would personally buy again, on the off chance that I crave a young, flavorful whiskey.
Rating: 2.5 Rickhouses