DSR – NC – 015: Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Southern Artisan Spirits
Location: Kings Mountain, North Carolina
Mash Bill: At least 51% Corn; Rumored to be 60% Corn, 20% Rye, and 20% Barley.
Age Statement: To be classified as a straight bourbon, a bourbon must be aged a minimum of 2 years. If the whiskey is between 2 and 4 years old, then an age statement is required. There is no age statement on this bottle, indicating that it’s been aged 4 years. However, the NC ABC indicates it is a 2 year old whiskey.
Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Turning Point Bourbon is light auburn in color. The whiskey has a delicate to medium bodied appearance in the glass and produces a modest viscous line. The legs are very late to develop and appear thick and oily as they sluggishly slide down into the belly of the tasting vessel.
Purchase Price: $35.95 in a NC ABC Store.
Bottle Label Information:
“Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
Right Side Label
“Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey is triple distilled in small batches hand crafted from locally sourced grain. The name “Turning Point” is taken from the Battle of Kings Mountain, a Revolutionary War Battle that took place locally and is considered the turning point of the war for the American Patriots.”
“Distilled and Bottled by Southern Artisan Spirits | Kings Mountain, North Carolina”
Southern Artisan Spirits
Southern Artisan Spirits (SAS) was founded in 2010 by Appalachian State University Alumni and twin brothers, Alex and Charlie Mauney. The distillery is located inside their great-great grandfather’s hosiery mill in King’s Mountain, North Carolina, about 35 miles west of Charlotte, NC. Prior to founding the distillery, Alex Mauney worked as an engineer and Charlie Mauney was pursing a law degree. The Mauney brothers started experimenting with making wine in their garage before deciding to pursue distilling gin full-time. Southern Artisan Spirits is the third legal distillery to launch in North Carolina after Prohibition and is located in the first town to officially vote on becoming dry in October of 1874. Since opening, Cardinal Gin has become highly decorated, winning Double Gold in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a feat never before accomplished by an American Gin Distiller (Source: Appalachian Magazine: Mauney Brothers Launch Award-Winning Gin Distillery).
Southern Artisan Spirits specializes in the distillation and crafting of gin. Products currently offered by the distillery in the NC ABC system include its flagship brand Cardinal Gin, Barrel Rested Cardinal Gin, Turning Point Rye Whiskey, and Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Rickhouse Ramblings reached out to Southern Artisan Spirits for additional information regarding their history and, specifically, its Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey, as we typically like to include details about the specific bourbon we sample each week. As of the time of this review no additional information has been provided, other than what is available on the company website. A phone call to the distillery did result in a positive contact and the individual on the phone did confirm that the distillery is still in operation and continues to produce whiskey. Our extensive internet searching did not unearth any information regarding Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which is a disservice to their product line.
Tasting Date/Vessel: July 24, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few added drops of distilled water.
Christian: Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey nosed in the bottle shortly after popping the cork, is an absolute oak bomb. The aroma of a freshly opened oak barrel exudes from the bottle top. A second pass introduces a very soft touch of cinnamon and sweet syrup into the picture. In my Glencairn glass, the nose is very sweet and gentle. This nose has a fruitiness with a hint of black pepper to it. A soft swirl and return to my nose brings out a burst of green apple, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla. This whiskey makes me think of freshly baked homemade apple pie. The addition of distilled water to this pour really brings out a rich, sweet caramel aroma in the nose. This really becomes the predominate profile of the nose with many of the other spices and elements taking a back seat.
Mike: Nosing this bourbon from the bottle, sliced apples and sweet tea permeate from the neck, easily transitioning to an aroma of wet barrel char. Nosing from the glass, the sweetness of a honey crisp apple tickles the nostrils, moving to an earthiness that is similar to smelling the skin of an apple freshly picked from the tree. A gentle swirl of the glass reveals cinnamon and tobacco then shifts to soft vanilla custard. Pulling the glass back a little and circling the glass around my nose, a silky sweet honeybun glaze aroma propagates.
Christian: The mouthfeel of this whiskey is soft and delicate. My first impression is that this is an easy sipper. On the tip of my palate, I quickly detect a very subtle, mildly sweet apple–similar to a red delicious or gala. There is a light sweetness, but it is in no way tart. Additional sips allow a very light accompaniment of leather, brown sugar, and just a smidge of caramel to join in on the palate. Adding water makes this pour very watery in consistency. The sweetness is toned down considerably with apple and rye grain (or cereal grain) really standing out. There is an additional bitterness, not barrel char or wood, that is present–I just cannot put my finger on what it is I am tasting.
Mike: Turning Point Bourbon has a soft mouthfeel with beautiful oak and tobacco suggestions initially present. This whiskey is semi-dry on the palate with a mealy red delicious apple flavor moving front to back. Lingering on the palate are delicate flavors of apple sauce and mulling spices. Overall this has a soothing honeyed mouthfeel.
Christian: Turning Point Straight Bourbon Whiskey offers a short to medium finish that is relatively dry. There is a little bit of a hug present, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Again, loads of apple remain on the palate, even long after the spirit has been completely swallowed. This comes more in the form of the apple skin than in its mealy flesh. In addition to the apple skin essence, there is a little smokiness present that transitions quickly to mulling spices. This reminds me of the flavor profile of apple cider. The distilled water makes a black pepper spice very pronounced. I notice that the apple flavors are more medicinal and/or manufactured in nature, versus the fresh crisp fruit taste experienced without water.
Mike: This whiskey has an uncomplicated finish with a soft, consistent cinder down through the chest. Baked pie crust flavors are present in the finish, while the sweetness of brown sugar continues to hang around in the background. Late notes of baking spices with a heavier cinnamon and brown sugar spice are pronounced, with just a touch of apple peel earthiness. A very appealing finish for my taste.
Christian: This is an intriguing pour, to say the least. If the reported mash bill of 60% corn, 20% rye, and 20% barley is accurate, then that could explain some of the uniqueness of the flavor profile. We just don’t know enough about this product to be 100% sure. There is no doubt that I prefer this whiskey neat without a cube or added water; the flavor profile is just so much more bright and crisp without the addition of water. In a lot of ways, the flavor profile reminds me of the Laird’s 7 1/2 year old apple brandy we reviewed previously, just with the addition of some more typical rye grain whiskey characteristics. If you approach this product looking for traditional bourbon flavors, then this product probably isn’t going to be for you. However, if you want something that is unique and outside the box, then you may find something you enjoy with this bourbon. I really wish we knew more about this particular product, Southern Artisan Spirits, and their processes, as it seems like they have a solid start on this whiskey. The fact that their website doesn’t highlight this product, or any others apart from their gin, bothers me. It just makes me wonder what else I might be missing.
Rating: 2.65 Rickhouses
Mike: Turning Point Straight Bourbon was an explosion of apple flavors! I’ve detected apple flavors in whiskey before, but nothing like this. I rather enjoyed the unique apple profile throughout, but I realize this dominant apple flavor may not be for everyone. I normally enjoy higher proof whiskey, 100 or above, but this offering from Southern Artisan Spirits is surprisingly on point for me. It is an easy sipper at 90 proof and the apple characteristics would likely make it an amazing mixer or cooking bourbon when mixed in with the right drink or dish. It has a fall or Christmas-like flavor profile and I cannot wait to try this in homemade eggnog this winter!
Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses