DSR – VA – 008: Ragged Branch Double Oaked Signature Bourbon Bottled In Bond
Company/Distillery: Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Mash Bill: 68% Corn, 16% Rye, and 16% Malted Barley
Age Statement: NAS (At least 4 years)
Proof/ABV: 100 Proof/50% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Deep rich mahogany color in the glass. Thick legs that glide smoothly down the tasting vessel.
Purchase Price: $60.01 from the distillery gift shop June 2020; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“RB | Ragged Branch”
“Independently Hand Crafted”
“Ragged Branch Signature Bourbon”
“Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Bottled in Bond”
“Double Oaked | Twice Barreled”
“Barrel 1399; Bottle 82”
“Ragged Branch is nestled in the foothills of the Ragged Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia. As a farm-to-bottle distillery, we grow, harvest, and mill rye and corn to craft our homegrown bourbon recipe. We proudly distill, age, and bottle our bourbon on site, and feed the residual mash to our cattle. We honor our late Master Distiller, Dave Pickerell, by utilizing the recipes and distilling methods he taught us.”
“Our Double Oaked Signature Bourbon is unique because it has been aged to full maturity in one barrel and then finished to perfection in a second, heavier charred new American white oak barrel. The higher level of char in the second barrel gives this bourbon a beautiful amber color, while allowing it to pick up added depth and complexity of flavor. We find notes of spicy rye, vanilla, and subtle tobacco with a slightly sweet finish.”
“Experience a true taste of the Commonwealth with Ragged Branch Double Oaked Signature Bourbon Whiskey.”
“Distilled, Aged, and Botted by Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC, Charlottesville, Virginia”
Ragged Branch Distillery
Ragged Branch Distillery, located in Albemarle County, Virginia, was an idea cultivated by founder Alex Toomy and several of his friends as they sat at his farm and discussed future life plans after the 2008-2009 housing crisis. Toomy and his friends where home-builders and developers who were experiencing first hand the fall out of the housing market. It was during one of these gatherings that someone mentioned, jokingly, the idea of becoming moonshiners and making whiskey. This idea took root in Toomy’s soul and he decided, along with partners Chris Sarpy and Russell Nance, to take the leap and reach out to the Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark, Dave Pickerell.
Pickerell was instrumental in getting Ragged Branch off the ground. He provided Toomy the confidence he needed to start a whiskey distillery and even assisted him in laying out a plan to bring this idea to fruition. After a 4 day visit from Pickerell on the farm, Toomy and partners decided that making Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey alongside of Pickerell was an achievable goal.
After several years of laboring to build the distillery, growing the grains (assisted by partner Kevin Engel), and awaiting their Vendome Copper and Brass Works still, Ragged Branch was ready to begin making whiskey in July 2014.
On July 7, 2014 Ragged Branch produced their first mash under the supervision of Pickerell. Four days later the fermented mash was run through their new still and Ragged Branch made its first run of whiskey. They now run the still, just as Dave Pickerell taught them, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, producing an average of 25 barrels per a month. Even today, Ragged Branch considers the late Pickerell to be their Master Distiller as they have continued to run the operation just as he taught them.
Double Oaked Signature Bourbon Bottled in Bond
Ragged Branch Double Oaked Signature Bourbon is distilled using grains grown on the farm. After distilling, Ragged Branch ages its Signature Bourbon for 4 years in new American white oak barrels on site, at the distillery. After this first round of aging, the whiskey is then dumped into a new #4 char American white oak barrel for at least 1 more year of aging. Our bottle for this review comes from barrel number 1399.
Tasting Date/Vessel: September 20, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass then again with a splash of distilled water.
Christian: Prior to diving in and nosing a nice pour of this double oaked bourbon, I first nosed the bottle. A robust punch of fresh leaf tobacco and cherries rush from the bottle and smack me in the face. It makes me eager to nose in further. A quick swirl of my Glencairn produces a rich caramel candy and warming brown butter fragrance. At this point, my mouth is legitimately watering. As I continue to swirl and nose, a nice aroma of rye grain, chocolate covered cherries, and fresh cut leaf tobacco race onto the scene. Without even tasting this offering, I know it’s going to be special. The addition of distilled water brings forward the tobacco aroma on the nose. Additionally, I notice a little bit of yeast roll or sweet bread becomes noticeable.
Mike: Fresh brown sugar is very prominent on the initial pass. The nose is very sweet–dried fruits and caramelized honey are very pronounced. As I swirl the glass and nose in deeper, hints of chewing tobacco develop and a pleasant hint of grape must is detected. Letting the whiskey rest, then nosing back in, the brown sugar really develops and is dominant. A simple yet fantastic nose.
Christian: The mouth feel is a bit thinner than expected. Right off the bat, I notice a decent amount of oak in the mouth. As I take in another sip, flavors of freshly brewed Lipton tea, cinnamon, and a slight hint of rye spice, are pronounced. Additional sips bring forth the experience of a sweet tobacco and vanilla extract combination. Really nice doesn’t adequately describe the flavors in this mouth. The distilled water really softens the mouth feel, making this sample become quite velvety. The bourbon sweetens a ton on the palate while allowing the rye spice to step back a bit. A touch of maple syrup, tobacco, and vanilla really move to the forefront.
Mike: My first experience with this sample is oaky and dry. This is quickly followed by an excellent rye kick to the back of the throat, really peppery and offering a zesty bite. Dried fruit and dark cherry flavors move across the palate. Fresh leather tones linger in the back of the mouth. This bourbon leaves a sweet sugary essence on the lips.
Christian: This Double Oaked Signature Bourbon has a nice long finish that warms you up from your mouth all the way to the deepest part of your chest. It is not overpowering or unpleasant but rather a welcome hug on a cool winter night. As the flavors begin to dissipate, a nice sweetness of chocolate syrup compliments a robust and flavorful aroma of dark roasted coffee beans. A slight lingering of fresh unsweetened cherry is the proverbial “Cherry on top” for this Ragged Branch offering. Water seems to make the finish a little bit drier. The finish is a less warming, yet, is still there and pleasant. Tobacco really becomes the predominate note, with a touch of cocoa powder that sticks around in the back.
Mike: I notice a substantially long finish, smooth and warm with a pronounced burn deep into the chest. This will definitely warm you up on a cold night. Curing tobacco flavors linger in the mouth and remind me of the beautiful smells driving past RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company as a child.
Christian: In this Double Oaked Signature Bourbon offering, Ragged Branch has produced a robust, rich, flavorful drinking experience. This whiskey is perfect for a cool winter night curled up beside the fireplace or outside with a fire pit and some good friends. I have tried this bottle neat, which I absolutely love, with a few drops of water, or in an Old Fashioned–man, does this whiskey have the ability to stand up on its own in either of these three drinking methods. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Ragged Branch has found a way to put their signature characteristic on all three of the products we have tried. Despite different mash bills or “finishing” barrels you know that you have a Ragged Branch product in your hand and to me that means you have a high quality bourbon! I hope Alex, Josh, and the team at Ragged Branch are ready to deal with the gentleman from Rickhouse Ramblings, as I see many trips for Mike and I in the near future to grab more bottles of this offering!
Rating: 4.25 Rickhouses
Mike: The addition of water makes the nose incredibly sweet and very honey-like. The mouthfeel becomes much more delicate and soft and mutes the overall finish but takes nothing away from the greatness of this bourbon.
This is a very well balanced and versatile whiskey. The flavors are bold but not too complex. I really like the double oaked expressions coming out of Ragged Branch. These are blended and aged impeccably and the double oak does not overpower the palate. This is a $60 bottle and can only be purchased at Ragged Branch, which is unfortunate for many, including the Rickhouse Ramblings men. This is a perfect price for 100 proof bourbon that is Bottled-in-Bond. I can’t say enough good things about it. Go visit Charlottesville and take home a few bottles, you will not be disappointed. And if you’re local, let us know when you’re going and you pick up a few bottles for us, too.
Rating: 4.25 Rickhouses