DSR – WA – 001: Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Woodinville Whiskey Company
Location: Woodinville, Washington
Mash Bill: 72% Corn, 22%Rye, and 6% Malted Barley
Age Statement: No Age Statement, but reported to be 5 years old.
Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV
Color: Woodinville offers a dark chestnut color with a thin vicious line as the tasting vessel is tilted to the side. There is a thick bodied residual oiliness left and legs develop with effort as they trudge down to the belly of the Glencairn glass.
Purchase Price: $37.95 from the NC ABC January 2021; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Pot Distilled | 90 Proof | Real Craft Whiskey”
“Handmade in Washington State”
“Est 2010 | Woodinville, WA | Smaller Batches | Bigger Dreams”
“This truly small-batch bourbon starts with traditionally grown corn, rye and malted barley. All of our staple grains are cultivated exclusively for us on the Omlin Family farm in Quincy, Washington. The grains are mashed, distilled, and barreled in our Woodinville distillery, then trucked back over the Cascade Mountains to our private barrel houses, where Central Washington’s extreme temperature cycles promote the extraction of natural flavors from the oak. Prior to being coopered, the barrel wood is seasoned in open air, rain, wind, sun, and snow for eighteen months, softening the wood’s harsh tannins. The barrels are then slowly toasted and heavily charred to further enrich the wood’s desirable flavors. This meticulous process yields a truly hand-crafted spirit with aromas of crème brulee and spice cabinet, as well as notes of rich caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla bean on the palate with a sweet, lingering finish.”
“Distilled, Bottled, & Aged by Woodinville Whiskey Company, Woodinville, Wash.”
Woodinville Whiskey Co.
Woodinville Whiskey Co., located on the northeast side of Seattle, Washington, was founded by friends Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile. Mr. Sorensen and Mr. Carlile make no qualms about the fact that Woodinville is not the result of a deep history or family tradition in the world of whiskey production. Instead, the friends started out with the dream of formulating the “greatest craft whiskey in the world” by blending the craft distillery world with old bourbon traditions. In order to do this, Woodinville Whiskey Co. sources local corn, rye, and barley from the third generation of farmers at the Omlin Family Farm in Quincy, Washington. As is the case with many of the craft distilleries we have reviewed, Woodinville was started under the tutelage of former Maker’s Mark and Whistle Pig Master Distiller, Dave Pickerell.
Woodinville uses a pot and column still in distilling their products. Barrels used for aging the whiskey at Woodinville are seasoned outside in all of the elements that Washington has to offer for 18 to 24 months. After proper seasoning, the barrels are then toasted prior to being charred to a #4 level. This process is done in an effort to provide the best conditions for the whiskey to move in and out of the oak, imparting pleasant sweet aromas and flavors. After the barrels are filled, they are then transported over the Cascade Mountains to Eastern Washington where they age to perfection in Woodinville’s private barrel house.
The hard work and effort have yielded Woodinville Whiskey many accolades, which is what drove us to sample a whiskey outside of our typical zone of tasting. The distillery has been named “Craft Whiskey of the Year” and “Craft Rye Whiskey of the Year” by the American Distilling Institute (ADI), two years in a row. In addition, Woodinville’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey was awarded Double Gold Medal by the 2020 San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition.
Current Woodinville Offerings: Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Woodinville Straight Rye Whiskey; Woodinville Double Barrel Whiskey; Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Port Finish; and Woodinville Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.
Tasting Date/Vessel: March 3, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.
Christian: A quick sniff of this bourbon in the bottle emits a desirable and robust fragrance of fresh pipe tobacco and brown sugar. In my Glencairn glass, Woodinville quickly announces itself with a nice rich nose. Sweet honey, vanilla bean, and a slight kick of clove are dominant from the get go. I take a quick swirl and return the glass to my nose where I’m met with an unexpected, yet light and sweet, essence of cranberries – not at all tart like the juice but more in line with a Christmas candle. There is a little ethanol in this pour, which tickles the nostrils for some time after taking a good nosing. Adding distilled water to this pour allows clove and brown sugar to win the day. A little undercurrent of leather begins to show up, while the tingling of the nostrils remains unchanged.
Mike: As I nose into this whiskey straight from the bottle, a sweet aroma of cured tobacco is detected, along with a touch of fresh brewed tea. Swirling in the glass presents a corn forward nose and a tinge of sharp ethanol. Hints of honeysuckle are revealed then transition to a scent of canned pears. Soft floral notes appear late with hints of chewing tobacco as I pull the glass back. Be careful not to nose in too deep as the ethanol becomes rather intense.
Christian: Woodinville has a decent viscosity to it, which leaves a slight oily film on my tongue. As I take my first sip, there is a hint of sweetness that reminds me of warmed brown sugar. The sweetness quickly transitions to notes of leather, fresh cracked black pepper, and a very vague touch of roasted corn and oak. The whiskey feels a little one dimensional at this point of the pour. The drops of distilled water really soften the mouthfeel and give the whiskey an almost creamy texture. The mouth sweetens considerably, with a caramel syrup flavor moving forward, complimented by a touch of vanilla wafers.
Mike: Woodinville has a very thin mouthfeel initially and is slightly dry. There is a sharpness of rye and a peppery bite at the front then flavors appear to sweeten mid-palate. The sweetness is very subdued with incredibly delicate suggestions of brown sugar, honey, and perhaps cinnamon.
Christian: This pour has a short to medium finish. Hints of leather, soft vanilla, and peppery rye are most noticeable here. The kick of spice, similar to red pepper flakes, causes a tingling on my tongue and roof of my mouth that hangs around a bit after the whiskey has left my mouth. As some flavors linger, I notice a bit of an earthy vibe–I’m thinking hay. I believe a light hint of stone fruit is trying to sneak through in the finish but it is overwhelmed by the spice kick in this pour. Distilled water removes the earthiness from the flavors and allows black pepper, vanilla, and a hint of clove honey to shine. Very late, I notice the sweetness of strawberry jam start to develop.
Mike: The finish starts out rather mellow then a terrifically late burn arrives in the middle chest. Unsweetened stone fruit offers a mild bitterness, as dry oak and leather linger faintly on the palate.
Christian: In some ways, I wonder if all of the hype surrounding Woodinville set me up and left me expecting too much going in to this review. Woodinville seems to be similar to a story that starts out strong, slows dramatically in the middle, and then fights like hell to try and get out alive. The nose on the pour is solid. There’s definitely a bit of ethanol in the nose, however, I find it overall pleasant and inviting. Arriving at the palate, I was expecting so much flavor but I had to work so hard to find it. Then, in the finish, you get tingling sensations from the rye, along with a deep warm hug that tries to fight back. In my opinion, Woodinville is a middle of the road offering that was fun to try, however, it’s not likely something I will seek out regularly to have at home.
Rating: 2.5 Rickhouses
Mike: Woodinville, for me, drinks younger than its estimated 5 years. For a 90 proof, it carries a sharp ethanol nose, snappy bite in the mouth, and gentle cindering finish. The price is attractive at $38, which is becoming the median price point for an average whiskey. Overall, I feel Woodinville could use some refinement but it offers enough character to distinguish itself from similarly priced offerings.
Rating: 3.0 Rickhouses