Review: Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey Distillery Expressions

DSR – SC – 012: Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey Distillery Expressions

Company/Distillery: Firefly Distillery

Location: N. Charleston, South Carolina

Mash Bill: Undisclosed

Age Statement: 6 Years 18 Days

Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV

Color & Viscosity: Viewing Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey from the bottle, it presents tawny in color. From the glass, this whiskey appears more dark chestnut to light russet in color. Tilting the tasting vessel to the side, the whiskey leaves behind a thin viscous line which develops to a medium lip. Thick beads begin to form from the lip then become droplets that slowly slide down the sides of the glass.

Purchase Price: Shared with Rickhouse Ramblings by Third Wheel Phil

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label





Left Side Label



DATE BARRELLED [sic] 12/19/16

BARREL # 16-0014


Jim Irvin & Scott Newitt | Founders of Firefly Distillery

Right Side Label


Distillery Background

Firefly Distillery

Firefly Distillery was founded in January 2005 when Jim Irvin and Scott Newitt decided to launch a distillery in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. Jim, a Vanderbilt University graduate in Biology and Chemistry, owned a winery named Irvin House Vineyards. Through the winery, Jim would cross paths with Scott. Scott was a graduate from LSU who worked for a wine and spirits distributor. The two quickly became friends and decided to launch a distillery making Muscadine Wine Vodka as their first product.

The pair would quickly learn that South Carolina State law was extremely unkind to distilleries, requiring a hefty sum of $50,000 to be paid to the state every couple of years. As a result, Firefly Distillery products would be forced to be made out of state. That is until 2007 when the duo lobbied the legislature to change the law reducing the fee to $1,500. Since then, they’ve never looked back. In 2020, the distillery opened its new state of the art facility in North Charleston, South Carolina near Park Circle.

Firefly Distillery now distributes its products to all 50 states and is building a presence in England. Firefly Distillery boasts over 20 products in its lineup with perhaps its most well known Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka leading the way.

Additional Firefly Distillery products include Firefly Vodka lineup: Classic, Lemonade, Ruby Red, Sweet Tea, and Skinny Tea. Firefly Moonshines: White Lightning, Apple Pie, Caramel, Cherry, Peach Strawberry, and Blackberry. Rums: Sea Island Java Rum and Sea Island Spiced Rum. Special Offerings: Distillery Expression Low Country Dry Gin, Firefly Sweet Tea Whiskey, and Firefly Bourbon Ball Whiskey. Finally, Firefly releases about two special releases a year of its Distillery Expressions Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: June 2, 2023 – Neat in a Glencairn glass; Then with a few drops of distilled water.


Christian:  In the bottle, Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey opens up with a burst of yellow corn sweetness accompanied by oak barrel char. In my Glencairn glass, this whiskey is grain forward with soft hints of corn, fresh pastries, and just a touch of vanilla buttercream icing. A gentle swirl really brings out the sweet undertones of brown sugar, butter toffee, and dark honey. This offering has a truly delightful nose. The addition of distilled water takes an already sweet nose and just pushes it over the top. Toffee reminiscent of the center of a Heath Bar, molasses, and baking breakfast pastries really stand out. Surprisingly it gains a spiciness with the addition of water. 

Mike: Nosing Firefly Straight Bourbon directly from the bottle, I’m hit with waves of pink bubble gum, lightly charred oak, and freshly cured cigarette tobacco. As I nose this bourbon from the glass, it is immensely sweet upfront, offering notes of vanilla icing then transitioning to brown sugar before settling into soft hints of vanilla extract and cinnamon. A gentle swirl of the glass releases aromas of cured tobacco, still slightly sweet, just earthier in nature.

Juan: After a challenging week full of stressful events, diving into this Firefly Straight Bourbon provides me with a creamy vanilla embrace, allowing me to relax and breathe a little easier. Imagine being handed an ice cream cone, before its inevitable melt, amid a summer heatwave. My senses stand tall with the expectation of what they will experience with each new sip. The beautifully caramel colored pour adds a cinnamon spice welcome. In that moment, the creamy vanilla and cinnamon spice infusion transports me to a sensation of Christmas in June…and I’m not mad about it at all.


Christian: Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a soft creamy mouthfeel that has a mild oily viscosity to it. Immediately out of the gate I notice the grain influences on the palate. Notes of sweet buttered corn, oak, and a slight hint of hay are all noticeable flavors. These flavors are joined by a very light confectioner’s sugar and gingerbread essence. On one pass, I swear I caught a fleeting note of cherry cola. Distilled water really takes the nice viscosity and mouthfeel of this whiskey and waters it down. Flavor wise, I notice the cherry cola influence much more now. This is in addition to notes of yellow corn, oak, and just a touch of sarsaparilla (maybe that is what I am getting instead of the cherry cola). 

Mike: The first sip of this whiskey presents semi-dry on the palate. Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey delivers sweet flavors upfront then becomes mildly bitter mid-palate, reminiscent of light oak tannin. A second taste of the bourbon reveals elements of creamed corn, perfectly seasoned with black pepper. Lingering on the palate are notes of new leather and Caramel Creams candies. This is a very indulgent offering overall.

Juan:  The instant this bourbon touches my tongue, I receive a dose of crisp tobacco with freshly crushed black pepper. As I sip further, this spice level pleasantly increases.


Christian: The finish on this Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Firefly Distillery is nice. A generous hug wells up deep in my throat. Delicate hints of oatmeal, brown sugar, and just a subtle nod to stone fruit come through. Later, long after the spirit has been swallowed, a punch of roasted or grilled corn on the cob moves to the forefront of the aftertaste. With the addition of distilled water, I notice a little more baking spice in the finish. Oak barrel is very much present now with a tinge of bitterness from the tannin hanging around, so much so that it seems to cover up any stone fruit that was present. 

Mike: This offering from Firefly Distillery offers an agreeable strike of heat that loiters around the back of the throat then settles into the mid chest region. A deferred suggestion of cedar or dried oak is detected on the back end. Overall, a medium to soft finish for this 6 year, 90 proof whiskey.

Juan: The astonishing truth to this experience is that it only gets better as I approach the finish line. This Firefly Straight Bourbon Whiskey undoubtedly leaves the best for last. The flavors manipulate my taste buds through a river of apples, black pepper, and a hint of butterscotch. A rise from smooth & sexy to ridiculously out-of-your mind breathtaking!

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: This is a solid sipper. A fantastic aromatic nose opens up the experience. The whiskey has an enjoyable texture that displays the work of 6 years resting in a barrel. The mouth is sweet with a nod to traditional bourbon flavors but ramped up with additional sweetness. A nice, bordering subdued finish completes an approachable drinking experience that will be enjoyed by many. I think we may have a little hidden secret here–shush, don’t let it get out too much. I would love to try this expression in one of the barrel proof versions released by Firefly a couple times a year. Overall, a quality Straight Bourbon Whiskey that I would have no problem having on my shelf to share with good friends.

Rating: 3.40 Rickhouses

Mike: This is a modest offering from Firefly. It hits the typical bourbon flavor profile but on the sweeter side. On the palate, this whiskey is surprisingly subdued to carry a 6 year age statement and perhaps the proof plays a part in that. While flavorful, I was hoping for a more robust experience. I’m unsure of the char level in the barrel this distillery uses, but I’d guess it is on the lighter side. All said, I did enjoy this whiskey and would keep this on the bar for guests looking for a lighter and sweeter option.

Rating: 3.375 Rickhouses

Juan: Since I’m new to reviewing, you may not know this about me: I enjoy a fresh spray of cologne in most social situations. Firefly Straight Bourbon is akin to giving yourself a refreshing spritz of cologne before heading out to dinner. There’s a sense of a confident I’ve got this attitude that makes you feel like you can conquer anything when drinking this bourbon. If you pour this, I promise that you’re in for a very satisfying evening.Be the King/Queen of the night by bringing this bottle to the gathering. Creamy vanilla dripping down the sides of a cinnamon spice infused apple…sounds delicious! I recommend this one to all bourbon/whiskey drinkers. JP’s Stick Pick: I suggest enjoying this bourbon with a Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary “Champagne” Cigar. Happy drinking and/or smoking!


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