By Richard Thomas
Although I haven’t attended a whiskey event or a gathering of enthusiasts since the launch of my most recent book, American Whiskey, in February 2020, the internet has ensured that I still hear this outdated fallacy about craft whiskey from time to time: “all craft whiskey is aged for just months in small barrels, which is why it all sucks.” At best only partly true a decade ago, nowadays I just want to point and laugh at whoever says this, because it means they’ve somehow missed the growing swell of bonded expressions coming from small distillers. Another pair of such bottled in bonds came along at the end of 2020, from Minnesota’s Tattersall Distillery.
This bonded, wheated bourbon is a four year old, in strict adherence with the basic standards and common practice of bonded whiskeys, which have a minimum age of four years. Given that Tattersall has been in operation for only about six years, the implication is the whiskey was laid down shortly after they began operation and part of the early planning. Although not the first whiskey to come from the North Star State since Prohibition, this plus its high rye bourbon sister release are the such first bonded whiskeys. Also in keeping with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, they bottled the bourbon at 100 proof.
A pour of Tattersall’s bonded wheater has a middling amber appearance. My take on the scent was freshly baked whole grain bread, smeared with plum jam and drizzled with vanilla. I found the flavor quite bread-like for even a wheated bourbon, with cereals replacing the customary floral quality. So, instead of being citrus-sweet, it was bread-sweet. The expected caramel and a note of wood spice rounded things out, the last part rolling out into the finish. It’s a mature, simple bourbon with a bit of a twist in its character, and I’ve taken to using it to making cocktails now that I’m bolted up for the winter. In that role, it’s giving me very good service.
A bottle of Tattersall Bottled in Bond Wheated Bourbon costs $49.99.