DSR – VA – 018: Ragged Branch Double Oaked Toasted Barrel
Company/Distillery: Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Mash Bill: 68% Corn, 16% Rye, and 16% Malted Barley
Age Statement: Over 5 Years Old
Proof/ABV: 126.24 Proof/63.12% ABV
Color & Viscosity: In the glass, this bourbon from Ragged Branch presents a beautiful burnt umber with pops of an orange to reddish-brown glow from ambient lighting. The viscous line is razor-thin then immediately produces tiny perforated-looking beads. The perforations form to become a medium viscous lip. The lip is very slow to become a few larger beads that just sluggishly skim down the sides of the tasting vessel.
Purchase Price: $69.00 in the distillery tasting room.
Bottle Label Information:
“Independently Hand Crafted”
“Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“Double Oaked Toasted Barrel”
“Barrel 1976 | Bottle 4”
“Ragged Branch is nestled in the foothills of the Ragged Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia.”
“As a farm-to-bottle distillery, we grow, harvest, and mill rye and corn to craft our homegrown bourbon recipe. We proudly distill, age, and bottle our bourbon on site, and feed the residual mash to our cattle. We honor our late master distiller, Dave Pickerell, by utilizing the recipes and distilling methods he taught to us – including aging every drop of our bourbon in charred white oak barrels for over 5 years.”
“This spirit was put into its original barrel on 3/5/16 and then Double Oaked into a lighter charred, toasted barrel on 12/8/20. We hope you savor each drop of the smooth, rich flavor of this Reserve label, and toast to the good times ahead.”
“Distilled and Bottled by: Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC, Charlottesville, Virginia”
Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC
Ragged Mountain Farm, LLC, located in Albemarle County, Virginia, was an idea cultivated by founder Alex Toomy and several of his friends as they sat at his farm and discussed their future plans after the 2008-2009 housing crisis. Mr. Toomy and his friends were home-builders and developers, experiencing firsthand, the fall out of the housing market. It was during one of these gatherings that someone jokingly mentioned the idea of becoming moonshiners and making whiskey. This idea took root in Toomy’s soul and he decided, along with partners Chris Sarpy and Russell Nance, to take the leap and reach out to the Maker’s Mark Master Distiller, Dave Pickerell.
Mr. Pickerell proved to be absolutely instrumental in assisting the men at Ragged Branch as they got their feet wet in the world of whiskey. He provided Mr. Toomy with the confidence he needed to start a whiskey distillery and even assisted him in laying out a plan to bring this idea to fruition. After Pickerell’s four day visit on the farm, Toomy and his partners decided that making Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey, with the help of Pickerell, was an achievable goal.
After several years of laboring to build the distillery, growing the grains (assisted by partner Kevin Engel), and awaiting their Vendome Copper and Brass Works still, Ragged Branch was ready to begin making whiskey in July 2014.
On July 7, 2014, Ragged Branch produced their first mash under the supervision of Mr. Pickerell. Four days later, the fermented mash was run through their new still and Ragged Branch made its first run of whiskey. They now run the still, just as Dave Pickerell taught them, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, producing an average of 25 barrels per a month. Even today, Ragged Branch considers the late Mr. Pickerell to be their Master Distiller, as they have continued to run the operation just as he taught them.
Standard offerings available by Ragged Branch include: Signature Bourbon; Wheated Bourbon; Double Oaked Signature Bourbon Bottled-in-Bond; Double Oaked Wheated Bourbon; Straight Rye Whiskey; Louisiana Reserve Signature; Louisiana Reserve Wheated; Signature Bourbon Finished in Wine Barrels.
For a brief look at the distillery and what they have going on check out this Ragged Branch Showcase Video!
Ragged Branch Double Oaked Toasted Barrel
Ragged Branch carefully crafts its Signature Bourbon using a recipe of 68% corn, 16% rye, and 16% malted barley. After distillation, this bourbon is aged in 53-gallon Kelvin Cooperage barrels for at least 4 years before being transferred to a lighter-charred new white American oak barrel for an additional year. This limited offering was bottled at a barrel proof of 126.24 proof/63.12 ABV.
Tasting Date/Vessel: February 26, 2022 – Neat in Glencairn Glass
Christian’s full review and tasting notes were published February 26, 2022 on Malt. Check out the link for his thoughts!
Mike: Right off the bat you can tell this is a barrel proof whiskey. Initially, the nose is ethanol forward but as that quickly dissipates, gentle waves of maple syrup, brown sugar, and lightly sweetened fig appear. A gentle swirl releases swift notes of cinnamon and rye spice as it settles into a fragrant cinnamon syrup, almost like a collaboration of maple syrup and cinnamon Red Hot candies.
Mike: The first sip of this toasted oak bourbon is nothing short of breathtaking. Hot spicy cinnamon attacks your lips and offers just a brief and subtle sweetness before a resurgence of rye zest slaps mid-palate. This offering from Ragged Branch packs a stunning punch that pulls you in and trash talks in your ear. It is unapologetically bold and in your face. Soft black tea flavors are detected on the second pass with a hint of oak char on the backend.
Mike: The finish of this Ragged Branch Toasted Oak Bourbon is surprisingly medium-bodied. There is a satisfying punch of spice that hits your back throat, leaving it a little scratchy, but in the best way. I don’t get much burn in the chest, which is a bit shocking for a barrel proof bourbon. Honestly, if there is a flaw with this offering, this is it. I’m left wanting more burn, but there is something to be said for a high-proof offering with an effortless finish. It’s my assumption that the softer char for the second barreling may have something to do with the lack of burn.
4.125/5.0 Rickhouses – “Make it a Double!”
Christian: Once again, Alex and his team have knocked it out of the ballpark with a special release bottling. This Double Oaked Toasted Barrel brings a more subtle drinking experience than other Ragged Branch Double Oaked products, but is worthy in its own right. In my review for Malt, I gave this whiskey a 7/10 – Superb Rating. On Malt, this indicates a whiskey that has “great balance, some real interest beyond the cask, where the spirit shines out too.” I think that is a great description of what is going on here. My personal palate absolutely loves the bold, in your face flavors presented by traditional barrel proof double oaked products at Ragged Branch. This was just a touch more subdued and tender, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a smidgen below their other offerings.
Rating: 4.00 Rickhouses
Mike: After imbibing this high-proof bourbon while keying this review, I am now feeling its full effects. Admittedly, my head is a touch swimmy and it may or may not reflect in my overall rating. Either way, I’m not going to apologize for it. I would have to really reach to find any negatives to this Ragged Branch Toasted Barrel, and it’s not because I’m toasted, either. To be completely transparent, I am a huge fan of Ragged Branch in general. There is an individuality to their overall flavor profile, especially in their double oaked offerings, that really appeals to me. They are fully transparent, which is more than welcomed in this bourbon craze age of marketing deception. There is no trickery out of this Charlottesville, VA distillery! In my opinion, this is just another stellar offering from an up-and-coming craft distillery. As a bourbon drinker, if you can’t appreciate what Ragged Branch is doing, then you need to educate yourself and #BranchOut!
Rating: 4.25 Rickhouses