Review: E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey

DSR – NC – 016: E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Walton’s Distillery, Inc.

Location: Jacksonville, North Carolina

Mash Bill: Undisclosed; At Least 51% Corn.

Age Statement: Aged a Minimum of 2 Years

Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV

Color & Viscosity: E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon is deep auburn in color. It produces a medium to thick viscous line in the tasting vessel and appears medium bodied. Legs develop quickly and glide down the side of the glass.

Purchase Price: $34.95 from the NC ABC Stores

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label

“E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey”

“Single Barrel – Aged a Minimum of 2 Years”

“Traditionally Crafted in Small Batches”

“Distilled by Walton’s Distillery, Jacksonville, NC”

Back Label

“E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey is distilled and bottled by the Walton family in Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA. It’s made with limestone-purified water and local grains then aged for two years in a new charred American oak barrel. Walton’s distillery endeavors to always support and utilize ‘American-made’ products and services in all stages of production and packaging.”

“Visit our website:, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our facility at 261 Ben Williams Road Jacksonville, NC, USA 28540. Phone (910) 347-7770″

“Distilled & Bottled by Walton’s Distillery, Inc. 261Ben Williams Rd. Jacksonville, NC 28540”

“Batch 3 | Bottle 212”

Distillery Background

Walton’s Distillery, Inc.

Walton’s Distillery, Inc. has a story that is very much something Mike and I can appreciate. The origin of the distillery starts with Don Walton – an attorney by trade. Mr. Walton had the opportunity to spend time living in Kentucky, where he became interested in the history and traditions of whiskey production. His love of the science and uniqueness of each distillery’s operations cultivated his interest and developed it into a passion, which eventually led to the idea of moving back to Jacksonville, North Carolina and one day opening up his own distillery. In 1989, Mr. Walton would return to Jacksonville in Onslow County and begin researching and discussing his idea with local and federal agencies. Much to his chagrin, Walton would find out that distilleries were prohibited in Onslow County by zoning laws. In 2012, Mr. Walton would file a motion in Onslow County that would pave the way to build the distillery of his dreams. In 2015, Mr. Walton would finally receive the clearance he needed, allowing him to launch Walton’s Distillery, Inc.

Walton’s Distillery would launch its first product, E.M. Walton’s Corn Whiskey, that same year. After settling on the recipe and successfully launching the Corn Whiskey product, Mr. Walton would turn to his cousin, Norwood Rochelle, about the possibility of producing legalized moonshine at the distillery. Rochelle had been producing illegal moonshine in Onslow County, North Carolina and beyond for over 50 years, working with moonshine legends such as Popcorn Sutton. Mr. Rochelle agreed to come along on the the distillery’s journey and over time, would help Mr. Walton build a still approved for the woods, in order to start the production of legalized moonshine to add to the distillery’s product line. The recipe used is an old family recipe perfected by Rochelle after long years in the woods. Mr. Rochelle would unfortunately pass away in 2016, but not before leaving his mark on Walton’s Distillery!

In addition to the distillery’s E.M. Walton’s 100% Corn Whiskey, Walton’s Distillery also produces Junior Walton’s Premium Select Barrel Aged Moonshine, E.M. Walton’s Premium Salted Caramel, Kitty Walton’s Apple Pie Moonshine, Junior Walton’s Authentic Carolina Moonshine, Mag Walton’s Peach Shine, Junior Walton’s Pine Shine Colada, Mag Walton’s Salted Caramel Shine, and E.M. Walton’s Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey of this review.

If you find yourself in Jacksonville, North Carolina, near Camp Lejeune, stop by and visit Walton’s Distillery. The distillery hosts open houses with live Bluegrass music and fresh southern cooking for your enjoyment. You might also find some of the distillery’s spirits to try and take home with you! For more information, check out their website, Walton’s Distillery!

E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey

E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made using local grains and limestone well water from Jacksonville, North Carolina. The distillate, made using an undisclosed mash bill, is distilled a total of 5 times before being aged in charred new American oak barrels for at least 2 years. The barrels are then dumped and bottled, one barrel at a time, at 90 proof. This single barrel product, like others, does allow for a unique tasting experience with each bottle while keeping the same overall quality set by Donald Walton.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: August 29, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few added drops of distilled water.


Christian: In the bottle, E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey offers a sweet and robust nose that bursts from the bottle. A deep, rich brown sugar aroma is accompanied by oak barrel char. A very light mineral characteristic is also noticeable. In my Glencarin glass, this bourbon opens with a floral rush that hits hard then quickly dissipates. Sweet notes of caramel syrup and milk chocolate are also present. I am reminded of the aromas of a chocolate covered wafer. A gentle swirl unleashes more caramel and just a touch of raisins. As I continue to swirl and nose, the floral notes show back up then quickly disappear. I am noticing a very slight smokiness in this pour as well. Adding water into the picture brings a noticeable buttery note to the nose. In some ways, it seems to make the pour smell a bit spicier.

Mike: Nosing this whiskey from the bottle, I detect light notes of oak and tobacco followed by powdered hot cocoa. As I pour this bourbon in the glass, it is wonderfully floral. Waves of floral bouquets rise from the glass as it sits in front of me. Caramel and chocolate, lightly drizzled with honey, permeate the nostrils as I lift the glass to my nose. Nosing deeper, you get a sharp burn of ethanol, but as I pull back, subtle hints of brown sugar and golden raisins push through. Swirling the whiskey in the glass and circling it around my nose reveals indulgent aromas of stone fruit, similar to that of freshly picked nectarines.


Christian: This offering from Walton’s Distillery has a thin, light consistency to it. You can instantly taste the youngness in this whiskey. My very first reaction is how reminiscent this pour is to a scotch–notes of shoe leather and suede explode on the palate. Not at all what I expected going in to this experience and definitely worlds different from what the nose offered. In addition to the aged leather flavors and decent amount of smokiness can be tasted on the tongue. Wow–this offering is very scotch forward in nature…a lot like I imagine it would be like to lick the leather saddle worn by the horse on the front of the bottle label. Water makes an already soft mouth feel even softer. Leather, specifically suede, really dominates the palate now.

Mike: E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon has a thin and semi-dry mouthfeel, somewhat earthy in flavor overall. This whiskey has a mild sweetness that hits the front of the palate with a mildly sweet peach tea flavoring coming in mid-palate. There is an essence of leather and a manageable smokiness on the back end. I was not picking up on it during our initial tasting, but there is a scotch-like quality to this offering. Normally this would turn me away, but either my palate is growing or it is a mild scotch flavor…perhaps it’s a little of both!


Christian: This bourbon offers a subtle finish that is short to medium in finish. Again, notes of cowboy boot leather lead the way here. This quickly turns to fresh sawdust, peach or apricot jam, and green oak bark. I’m getting a touch of sweet with a little bit of earthiness with this finish. As I allow the flavors to evolve further on my palate, long after the spirit itself is gone, I notice the peach flavor becoming less like super sweet jam and more in line with a freshly baked peach cobbler over an open fire–just kissed by a subtle smoke flavor. Water seems to take away a lot of the stone fruit flavors, leaving behind leather and a palatable smokiness to remain on this pour.

Mike: This bourbon offers a mild and medium finish overall. Touches of leather and warm tobacco are present as the “campy” scotch qualities linger behind. At 90 proof, there is little to no “hug” from this bourbon and just enough warmth to know you’re drinking whiskey. Revealing itself very late is a smoky peach flavor that is quite enjoyable along with a simple brown sugar essence. 

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Going into this review of E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey, I really didn’t know much about the distillery or what it produced. I had seen several of their moonshine offerings on the shelf at my local ABC store, but we did not include it in our Moonshine Taste-Off for North Carolina. We were both surprised and excited to see that this bottle of straight bourbon by Walton’s Distillery was both straight and single barrel, but we knew it was young. The nose on this pour is absolutely fantastic with almost no signs of typical young whiskey characteristics. The mouth is, quite frankly, unexpected and a bit shocking. I never expected this spirit to remind me so much of a scotch whiskey. Earthy flavors that are leather forward with a wisp of smoke. Finally, the whiskey offers an approachable finish that doesn’t destroy the palate with heat and could be enjoyed by many different drinkers. E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey is not at all what I expected, however it offers a drinking experience that is unique, affordable, and congenial. Being a single barrel, the uniqueness of each barrel really makes me curious as to what a different bottling of this whiskey may taste like. I would be interested in trying another batch of this E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey, as well as a bottle of their E.M. Walton’s Corn Whiskey. I think we are far from done with experiencing this distillery and their offerings!

Rating: 2.50 Rickhouses

Mike: E.M. Walton’s Straight Bourbon is an intriguing pour. The nose is quite aromatic and floral, captivating your senses and drawing you in for more. The mouth exposes a scotch-like quality that I generally do not care for, however, the melodious flavors are well-balanced for my palate. I find myself continuously reaching for another pour as I’m typing this review. That can’t be bad, right? Priced at $34.95 in the NC ABC system, this is a respectable offering from a little known craft distillery out of Jacksonville, NC. This is precisely what the Rickhouse Ramblings journey is all about–shining a spotlight on the small distilleries in our region. This whiskey may not WOW you, but you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Rating: 2.95 Rickhouses


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