DSR – SC – 007: Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Crouch Distilling, LLC
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Mash Bill: 60% Blue Corn, 30% Malted Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Age Statement: 2 Years Old
Proof/ABV: 92 Proof/46% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon is burnt mahogany in color. It produces a sharp, razor thin viscous line in the tasting vessel with a middling body. A heavy lip of residue develops then legs progress rapidly down the sides of the whiskey glass.
Purchase Price: $47.99 from Total Wine & More, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Bottle Label Information:
“Proudly Distilled In South Carolina”
“Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Aged In Charred New Oak”
“Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“This bourbon is distilled from corn, malted barley and malted rye. It has been aged two years in charred new oak barrels. Notes of toffee and butterscotch accompany the familiar vanilla and caramel.”
“At Crouch Distilling we take our spirits seriously. Each product is handcrafted one small batch at a time using quality ingredients.”
“Distilled and Bottled by Crouch Distilling, LLC, Columbia, SC”
“Year: 2019 | Batch: 01 | Bottle: 043”
Crouch Distilling, LLC
Crouch Distilling, LLC was founded by husband and wife team Phil and Jessica Crouch in Columbia, South Carolina. When he began working at a Columbia mill, Mr. Crouch was quite fond of experimenting with home brewing. Knowing that the craft brewing scene was exploding and over saturated, coupled with his constant exposure to freshly milled grains such as corn, rye, and barley, Crouch decided to go in a different direction. He began experimenting with the craft of whiskey distillation. His wife, Jessica, got the process moving when she purchased a 5-gallon copper pot still. Jessica’s family, specifically her grandfather, had been a moonshiner and inspired her to support her husband’s desire to learn the fine art of distilling. The duo was able to produce approximately 100 gallons of spirits a month, using 5 small pot stills. Phil handled all aspects of the process, including the milling of the grain, fermentation, distillation, barreling, and bottling. Jessica assisted in the day-to-day aspects of the whiskey business by marketing the product to distributors and running the distiller’s tasting room. Unfortunately, in June of 2020, Crouch Distilling, LLC, fell victim to the COVID-19 Pandemic and they were forced to close their doors and cease production. As a result, not much information is available about the distillery, their process, or products. A brief glimpse into Phil and Jessica’s operation can be viewed here on YouTube.
Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey was distilled in Columbia, South Carolina using locally sourced blue corn, malted rye and malted barley. The whiskey was distilled in single batches using small pot stills. Crouch Distilling aged their whiskey in 5 and 10-gallon new charred oak barrels for 2 years before bottling.
Tasting Date/Vessel: September 12, 2021 – Neat in Glencairn Glass; Then with a few added drops of distilled water.
Christian: Nosing Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey directly from the bottle allowed a rush of oak and tobacco to tickle my senses. A gentle swirl and return to the bottle introduced a nice smokiness to the aroma – more cigar or pipe smoke than campfire. This boasts a very intriguing smell, directly from the bottle. In my Glencairn glass, from a distance, I am overwhelmed by the aroma of that pink bubble gum we all remember from our childhood – it is crazy how undeniable this smell is. As I lift the glass up to my nostrils and inhale, I notice once again, the pink bubble gum influence, however I also start to notice a touch of fruitiness, similar to dark red grapes or maybe even strawberries. A gentle swirl opens up a sweetness on this whiskey and reminds of caramel, honey, and a gentle hint of fresh bread dough. This is a very pleasing nose on the pour. The addition of fresh distilled water really changes the nose on this pour. Rich caramel sauce, butterscotch, and a hint of maple syrup rush out of my Glencairn glass. The bubble gum influence is still present, but it is overtaken by the sweet thick aromas of sugary sauces.
Mike: When nosing this bourbon from the bottle, I’m charmed by heavy tobacco and notes of dark cherries, very reminiscent of cherry tobacco being smoked from a pipe. From the glass, I’m hit with mellow aromas of bubble gum balls, the quarter diameter sized balls from a gumball machine. A swirl of the glass releases qualities of dark cherry syrup that transitions smoothly to new leather, curing tobacco, and brown sugar. Allowing the bourbon to settle, then nosing back in, the saccharinity of the powdery residue from a stick of bubble gum remains as charred oak pushes through late.
Christian: The mouthfeel on this straight bourbon is thin and soft. It is very delicate feeling on the palate. The pour is not overly sweet on my tongue; instead, a rush of leather and smoked grains, mainly barley, rush to the forefront. A second pass continues to produce a lot of leather, but I begin to notice a morsel of salted caramel and barrel char trying to break through. After a swirl in the glass and another sip, I continue to get more and more leather and smokiness – neither is abrasive in nature, but both remain strongly present. There are a lot of similarities to smoke coming off of a smoker or cigars–very distinguishable. As is typically the case, the distilled water makes an already delicate whiskey even smoother and silkier in feel. In this case, it seems as if the whiskey actually develops more of an oily consistency on the tongue. The smokiness of the grains really becomes the dominant taste at this point. Not as much cigar or smoker smoke is present, but it has transitioned to more of a campfire and toasted wood taste.
Mike: Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon has a sweet and semi-soft mouthfeel that settles agreeably on the front of the palate. Hints of charred oak and aged tobacco present mid-palate with a mild sting of heavily toasted cinnamon sticks. There is a dense cigar smoke characteristic that hangs around on the back of the palate that I’m enjoying with this pour.
Christian: Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon Whiskey produces a short to medium finish that nicely masks the youthfulness. The back end of the pour is definitely dry and a tad bitter. As I sip, I notice a generous amount of charred oak barrel, but this is accompanied by a tartness that is reminiscent of dark black cherry, toffee, and dates. Long after the whiskey has been consumed a noticeable amount of a childhood candy I remember well, Coffee Nips, and fresh longleaf tobacco, dance pleasantly on the taste buds of my tongue. In the finish, the whiskey remains at a short to medium finish. Man does the finish ever become a smoked butterscotch bomb with the addition of the distilled water. A rush of sweetness quickly gives way to the bitterness of smoke, salt, and barrel char – not disruptive to the experience but quite unique.
Mike: This bourbon offers a mild and medium finish. There is a slight essence of black cherry tartness that transitions to dry black tea. The bubble gum sweetness is soft and lands tardily, but continues to linger on the palate. Similar to the mouth, that smokiness loiters, but is a touch sweeter, a Swisher Sweet quality. This is a very suave pour of whiskey.
Christian: What Crouch Distilling has been able to produce in their Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a nose to finish, complete drinking experience. None of the parts measured separately are overly complex, missing an array of flavors from all directions. However, Crouch Distilling really provides one with a whiskey where the sum is truly greater than the parts. This straight whiskey is enjoyable neat or with a splash of distilled water, each providing the imbiber with a different experience. I can only imagine that a cube of ice or a cocktail that stands up to a smoky whiskey would make for a delightful pairing. The only real spot that makes me pause here is the price. At almost $50, the asking price is quite steep for a 2 year whiskey, even one that is made in such small batches and in a very limited quantity. I applaud Phil and Jessica for what they were able to develop and build at Crouch Distilling; it is clear they were working to build a solid foundation for some special things to come down the road. It is unfortunate that the pandemic threw this speedbump in their plans. Here’s to hoping that when all of this craziness from COVID calms down, that Crouch Distillery can rise from the ashes like a phoenix and start building on the recipes and ideas they had started.
Rating: 3.00 Rickhouses
Mike: Crouch Distilling Straight Bourbon is aged 2 years and bottled at 92 proof. The price for this bourbon was $48, which is on the high side for my liking, considering this low aged craft spirit. With that said, I was very pleased and surprised with the overall flavor this whiskey offered. I feel like this bourbon from the Crouches presents nice complexities compared to offerings from competitors in its region. The sweet and smoky couples meticulously and I think this would pair amazing with a good cigar.
Rating: 3.00 Rickhouses