By Andrew Graham
I will be interested in discussing the legislative filibuster at noon EST on January 20, 2021—and in the meantime, I’ll be drinking and reviewing as much whiskey as possible, and also voting in person as early as possible (Editor’s Note: Graham submitted this review before Election Day).
For now, let’s talk about the latest expression from Maurertown, VA-based Filibuster Distillery, located about 90 miles west of the nation’s capital and commonly seen in bars near Capitol Hill. Filibuster is perhaps better known for its dual cask-finished bourbons, which are sourced whiskeys that typically spend additional time in wine, port, or sherry barrels before being blended and then bottled.
Like a lot of regional producers, Filibuster seems to have begun by using sourced whiskey to establish a brand, with the ultimate goal of distilling its own juice. That time seems to have come, as Filibuster does indeed distill and mature their Single Estate line.
Filibuster describes its Single Estate bourbon as being from “one farm, one distillery, one barrel.” That farm, Shenandoah HWK Farms in Virginia, supplies the distiller with the corn, rye, and barley that go into the mash.
The distillery ages the Single Estate bourbons as high up as it can in its rickhouse, a position that exposes the barrels to the maximum heat and humidity. Five single barrels, which have slightly different age statements (in between two and a half and three years) and ABVs, were chosen to make up this very limited bottling.
For what it’s worth, the bottle I sampled for this review was aged for two years and seven months in an oak barrel that was air dried for 18 months, and then bottled on July 24 at the barrel-strength proof of 111.
I found this bourbon to have a big nose, with nice scents of orange peel, polished wood, and maraschino cherry. On the palate, the rye drove the flavors I experienced, which included new oak, maple syrup, black pepper, roasted red pepper, and a slight tannic bitterness reminiscent of raw walnut. It winds down with a trailing sweetness and a drying mouthfeel.
The story here is this expression’s versatility. It was quite good neat, and a drop or two of water accentuated its oakiness. But it absolutely shined in my go-to bourbon cocktail, which is bourbon on a few rocks with two dashes of bitters and a quick squeeze of lemon. A tiny bit of acidity from that lemon tamed some of the bourbon’s aggression, while its heft allowed the spirit to stand up to some dilution. I would wager that it can stand up equally well in a manhattan and other bourbon-based cocktails.
Filibuster Single Estate bourbon retails for about $50. I am really impressed with this expression and look forward to seeing what Filibuster does next.