Review: Black Dirt Bourbon

DSR – NY – 002: Black Dirt Bourbon

Company/Distillery: Black Dirt Distilling Company

Location: Warwick, New York

Mash Bill: 80% Black Dirt Corn, 10% Malted Barley, and 10% Rye

Age Statement: Aged 4 Years

Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV

Color & Viscosity: In the bottle, Black Dirt Bourbon presents itself as tawny in color. As it is poured into the tasting vessel, the whiskey appears russet in color. The viscous line is rather thin but the bourbon itself is thick bodied. Perforated beads form then muddle together as slow legs develop and glide down the side of the glass.

Purchase Price: $38.65 from the North Carolina ABC; 750 ml

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label

“Black Dirt Bourbon”

“Hand Crafted”

“Aged 4 Years”

“New York Straight Bourbon Whiskey”

“Small Batch Distilled by Black Dirt Distilling, Warwick, NY”

“Batch No. 016”

Back Label

Black Dirt takes its name from the dark, fertile soil left by an ancient glacial lake that once covered thousands of acres of Upstate New York. Perfectly suited for growing crops such as corn, this black dirt had never been used for bourbon production – until Black Dirt Distillery was born.”

“Distilled and Bottled by Black Dirt Distilling Co., Warwick, NY”

Distillery Background

Black Dirt Distilling Co., LLC

Black Dirt Distilling Company, LLC was founded in 2012 by partners Jason Grizzanti and Jeremy Kidde in Warwick, New York. This was not the duo’s first venture into the business of alcoholic beverages. Prior to starting Black Dirt Distilling Company, Grizzanti and Kidde would begin their journey in 2002 by taking over a cidery owned and operated by Gizzanti’s dad. The partners would decide to expand Warwick Valley Winery’s product line from mainly ciders to the production of different brandies and fruit eau de vie. This move would earn them the title of becoming the first craft distiller in New York. Finally, in 2007, the ability to obtain a Farm Distiller License became available and with it, the ability to craft whiskey. Their whiskey quickly became a hit and led to the founding of Black Dirt Distilling Company which produces roughly 60 barrels of liquor a week.

What is up with Black Dirt?

So what is “black dirt”? I’m sure you didn’t expect a science lesson in this week’s whiskey review, but you’re about to get an education! Not far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and the New York cityscape rests Orange County, New York. Although it may be better known for being the home of West Point and the United States Military Academy (Army, as it’s known to those of us that are football fans), Orange County is home to some of the most fertile soil that the United States has to offer. 

Orange County, NY is known as being the “black dirt” region. Curiously enough, this area of the country is known for its growth of onions. The black dirt soil, rich with its high sulfur content, is the perfect foundation for growing potent onions. But why is it different? Scientists say that this area was created by a glacier some 12,000 years ago. As the glacier receded, it left behind an area of bogland that was made up mostly of rich plant matter. This area was drained in the early 1900’s, exposing the “black dirt” left behind. In addition to onions, other crops including corn, are grown in the rich and fertile soils of Orange County. Black Dirt Distillery claims to have the first bourbon made using corn grown in black dirt!

Black Dirt Bourbon Whiskey

Black Dirt Bourbon Whiskey is distilled, aged, and bottled by Black Dirt Distilling Company in Pine Island, New York. Each batch is distilled using a mash bill of 80% black dirt corn, 10% malted barley, and 10% rye. Black Dirt uses a 60 foot copper column beer still built by Vendome Copper & Brass Works out of Louisville, Kentucky. After distillation, the whiskey is aged in new American Oak barrels (char level 3) for a minimum for 4 years. Black Dirt Bourbon Whiskey was awarded the Double Gold at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: January 19, 2022 – Neat in a Glencairn glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.


Christian: In the bottle, Black Dirt Bourbon presents with traditional bourbon aromas including brown sugar, leather, and a slight hint of caramel. As the bottle begins to open up and a second pass is taken, I notice additional floral notes and fresh leaf tobacco…very inviting! In my glass, the nose on this pour is nothing like what was experienced in the bottle. The nose is much more earthy with a dash of sweetness now. Raw rye grain leads the way and is accompanied by hay or straw, a touch of potting soil, and cornmeal. A gentle swirl allows more sweetness, think cornbread batter and a touch of simple syrup. This nose is rather unique and layered. The distilled water adds a touch of richness to the nose and really allows the brown sugar and caramel to stand tall. A floral component is still present along with just a hint of spice.

Mike: As I nose this bourbon from the bottle, my nose is met with rich tobacco leaf, brisk corn husk, and gentle floral aromas. A soft perfume of mixed berries permeates through as I softly swirl the bottle. From the glass, a charge of ethanol rushes forward then sweet brown sugar notes find their way through the sharpness of the ethanol. Swirling the whiskey in my glass releases sweeter floral notes, but they are considerably muted. As I draw the tasting vessel in close then pull back slowly, the sweetness becomes more rich and a honeyed mellowness settles in.  


Christian: The mouthfeel on this bourbon by Black Dirt is soft and thin. There is little to no coating left on my tongue. Man, is this pour fruity! After a rush of corn-based breakfast cereal, the flavor gently transitions to buttered corn and light hay. I get a pop of dried fruits, mainly blueberries or mixed berries on my tongue. This was unexpected and quick moving but present nonetheless. Again, the earthiness from the nose carries over, but it is in no way a bad flavor. A second sip allows a small tinge of toasted brown sugar and caramel candies to creep in. The added drops of distilled water really kill this one to me. Straight salted corn kernels from a can is about all you can taste.

Mike: Black Dirt Bourbon offers a medium to soft mouthfeel on the palate. Initially sweet on the tongue, a mild earthiness moves across mid-palate. Touches of sweet tobacco and soft leather intermingle as a dryness nestles in with charred oak at the back of the tongue.


Christian: The finish here is smooth and underwhelming in the mouth, but wells up deep in the throat and chest as a nice warming sensation. At first you get a shot of honey and warm brown sugar in the finish, but what comes next is absolutely amazing! The sweetness of the dried berries, including a touch of blueberry, is delicious! This is joined by a touch of leather that is complimentary to the experience. Distilled water makes the finish on this pour a little bitter. The berries remain in the back but are very subdued. Adding distilled water reminds me of a raspberry seltzer water.

Mike: This whiskey delivers a mild finish with a delicate warmth from the throat, moving down into the chest and belly. A pleasant corn sweetness lingers with a distinct yet vastly subdued mixed berry puree flavor appearing, reminiscent of a pastry filling or fruit compote aroma. What is left behind in the empty glass is intoxicating–sweet buttercream icing and drizzled honey remain with a transition to cured tobacco.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: Black Dirt Distilling Company has developed a well rounded bourbon whiskey that can be enjoyed by a wide range of drinkers. This pour is smooth, approachable, and capable of being an everyday drinker. The nose is fragrant and inviting. The mouth loses a little bit of steam, as the overall flavor profiles are muted and, as a result, a little muddled. Finally, the finish provides a nice warmth that isn’t overpowered by the alcohol. The time in the barrel has done this whiskey well. My goodness, the berries flavors are both surprising and tasty. This was an enjoyable introduction to Black Dirt Distilling that should appeal to a wide variety of consumers. I would love to try some of their apple brandy, single barrel bourbon, and their bourbon at barrel proof. I can only imagine the pop of flavor one may find!

Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses

Mike: This is a very interesting bourbon coming out of New York. Black Dirt New York Straight Bourbon boasts a 4 year age statement and carries an ABV of 45%, or 90 proof. The nose is rather fragrant from bottle to glass, but I’m left wanting more with this whiskey in the flavor profile. The mouth was rather simplistic as nothing stood out from a flavor perspective. With that said, it carried traditional bourbon notes that most would find appealing, even though I found it to be somewhat muted. The finish was perfect for the average consumer, middling warmth from beginning to end with a somewhat unique flavor profile lingering behind. Black Dirt Distillery hits its mark with this offering, as this should appeal to the masses.  

Rating: 3.00 Rickhouses


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