DSR – NC – 017: Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Asheville Distilling Company
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Mash Bill: 100% Heirloom Crooked Creek Corn
Age Statement: Aged 7 Years
Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV
Color & Viscosity: From the bottle, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve is dark auburn to light mahogany in color and presents beautifully. In the glass, the whiskey is dark russet to a very soft tawny color. Troy & Sons Oak Reserve is very oily in appearance on the sides of the tasting vessel. There is very minimal leg formation or separation as the viscous liquid moves rather rapidly down the sides of the glass.
Purchase Price: $39.95 from the North Carolina ABC; 750 ml
Bottle Label Information:
“Troy & Sons”
“Oak Reserve Whiskey”
“Aged 7 Years”
“Handmade Small Batch”
“TROY & SONS”
“Oak Reserve is made in the hand-crafted tradition of the early spirit makers from Western North Carolina. We use heirloom Crooked Creek Corn which had nearly become extinct around 1840. Each kernel holds the magic of that original American Spirit that allows us to produce the smoothest whiskey you have ever tasted. Oak Reserve received additional nurturing by mellowing in charred oak barrels. Enjoy, Troy”
“Distilled and Bottled by Asheville Distilling Company – Asheville, N.C. USA”
Asheville Distilling Company
Asheville Distilling Company was founded in 2010 by Troylyn “Troy” Ball. Ms. Ball, who holds the title of the first legal female distiller in North Carolina and the first woman in America to found a whiskey distillery in current modern times, moved from Texas to Asheville, North Carolina in order to find a more suitable living environment for her two boys with special needs, Luke and Coulton. Interestingly, Ms. Ball was not much of drinker in her younger years and didn’t really begin to experiment with alcoholic beverages until she was in her 40’s. That is when, after moving to Asheville, Troy was introduced to North Carolina moonshine. In 2008, Troy would experience what locals call “Keeper” moonshine – the moonshine that typically wasn’t sold to clients around town, but kept inside the home of its maker to be enjoyed. The complexities and smoothness of this newfound spirit would rocket Ms. Ball down a path of exploration and eventually distillation.
In order to find the recipe she wanted to pursue, Troy would visit with many active and retired moonshiners in North Carolina and the southern United States. On August 18, 2010, after testing a batch of moonshine using Heirloom Crooked Creek Corn, Ms. Ball finally discovered that special recipe – something affectionately known as “Lucky 818” and the rest, as they say, is history. Today you can find Troy’s husband Charlie acting as Master Distiller at the distillery.
In addition to Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey, the company also distills its Blonde Whiskey, Troy & Sons Platinum Moonshine, Troy & Sons Cinnamon and Honey Whiskey, Troy & Sons Nectarine and Honey Whiskey, and Limited Edition Keeper Brandy. For more information about the distillery and their products, including their new facility, visit their website at http://www.ashevilledistilling.com.
Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey
Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey is distilled using a mash bill of 100% Heirloom Crooked Creek Corn that is locally sourced by John McEntire and the McEntire Family Farm. The mash is distilled in a 5,000 liter Kothe Copper Still featuring two columns, which allows for a high proof spirit to come off the still. The distillery harvests only the hearts to make its Platinum Moonshine, which is the base whiskey for the Oak Reserve product used for this review. After distillation, the whiskey is aged in used bourbon barrels (rumored to be Woodford Reserve barrels) and aged for 7 years.
Tasting Date/Vessel: January 19, 2022 – Neat in a Glencairn glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.
Christian: In the bottle, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey permeates the air with aromas of tobacco, dark brown sugar, and caramel with just a hint of rum qualities. I admit that I am caught off guard with what I am experiencing in my Glencairn glass. This nose on this whiskey comes across exactly like a rum. A super sweet nose of toasted brown sugar, dark Karo corn syrup, and just a hint of pineapple jump from the glass. Swirling the glass allows a sugary sweet caramel corn profile to seep forward. The addition of distilled water leaves me intrigued. Dark brown sugar, butterscotch, and corn all show up in the nose.
Mike: Nosing this whiskey from the bottle, there is an immense fruitiness that emits from the neck followed by brown sugar being warmed on the stove. I also detect a rum-like essence from the bottle which is very interesting to me. As I dive my nose into the glass, the rum essence is very pronounced. I can’t quite explain it but, for me, most aged rums have this fresh rubber smell, like a new block eraser. It is not necessarily off-putting but unique and not something I’ve ever experienced with a whiskey. A gentle swirl of the tasting vessel draws out more brown sugar highlights followed by buttery caramels. A soft hint of tobacco presents as the whiskey settles and I draw the glass slowly away from my nose.
Christian: The mouth feel on this whiskey is very light and delicate with just a skosh of oiliness. The flavor profile here is not at all what I expected, much like the nose. Leather is the first note I experience, but this quickly transitions to a sweetness of light caramel, honey, and a certain flaky corn cereal. This whiskey presents as not overly complex and lacking the layers of flavors typically present in most whiskies. Distilled water makes the spirit silky smooth. Honey and cornbread flavors remain dominant, but an additional hint of black pepper spice shows up.
Mike: My first sip of this Oak Reserve is very interesting. It offers a mild dryness with a soft sweetness on the front of the palate. Warm oak char flavors develop then transition to flavors that are reminiscent of moistened cornmeal batter. On my second pass, the corn sweetness really dominates the flavor profile and I’m having a hard time detecting much more than very mild tobacco and delicate brown sugar notes.
Christian: In the finish, Troy & Sons Oak Reserve is smooth and approachable. A nice slow warming sensation tingles the tongue before slowly filling the throat and chest. This spirit continues to reminds me of an aged rum more than a traditional American whiskey. Leather, vanilla angel food cake, butterscotch, and just a touch of pineapple all appear as I finish this sip. A second pass brings a light hint of rubber pencil eraser, defined by many as a rum “funk”. It is not “funk” in a negative connotation – just different. The water addition seems to remove any of the essence of a rum product and leaves behind the vanilla angel food cake flavor or perhaps even plain pie crust. A slight hint of oak barrel finally shows up in the whiskey.
Mike: At 90 proof, this whiskey delivers a soft and silky finish. No heat is detected until very late in the chest where it builds to a swift ember and then fades as quickly. There is so much sweet corn left on the back end of the palate. This spirit reminds me of the times my Maw Maw shucked and cooked white shoe peg corn.
Christian: Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey, aged for an impressive 7 years, is a unique and intriguing experience. Honestly, the same can be said for the Troy & Sons Platinum Whiskey Heirloom Moonshine, the base of this Oak Reserve. In the moonshine, I noticed a touch of apple that eventually became more of a pineapple note, due to the influence of the barrel. To be completely honest and frank, I am not sure what to do with this whiskey, from a rating point of view. I believe that someone who is mostly a fan of traditional whiskey would be disappointed with this flavor profile, if they came into it craving whiskey and its layers of flavors. On the flip side, a rum fan would likely not be completely satisfied with this as a substitute. However, on its own, it is a unique and intriguing pour that has an attractive nose, subdued but complementary flavor profile, and smooth easy-sipping finish. As a change-of-pace adult beverage, it’s pretty solid, which is how I arrived at the rating I did.
Rating: 2.65 Rickhouses
Mike: This is a very intriguing offering from Troy & Sons. I very much enjoyed their Platinum Moonshine, of which this is just an aged-in-oak-barrels version. Needless to say, I was excited to try this whiskey. I’ve never really experienced a whiskey like this and if I was doing a blind taste, I’d swear by the nose that it was a mistake and someone slipped in a rum. The nose offers quirkiness and an abundance of complexity. The overall flavor of the whiskey continues to grow on me with each passing sip. There’s a lot to be said for this whiskey if I keep refilling my glass as I type this review. I find this to be a very easy-sipping whiskey with a straightforward, albeit unique, flavor.
Rating: 3.25 Rickhouses
One thought on “Review: Troy & Sons Oak Reserve Whiskey”
Sounds like an intriguing offering from a distillery from my childhood hometown. Thanks Michael and Christian for your thoughtful critique.