This bourbon had been popping up on my radar of late, with many commenting on the great whiskey coming out of Missouri - yes, Missouri. When I saw the age statement, coupled with a Bottled-in-Bond expression, I knew I had to try Holladay 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond.
Real Missouri Bourbon
I'm always amazed when you discuss bourbon and some assume that for a whiskey to be "bourbon" that it must come from Kentucky. While Kentucky is home to 95% of the world's bourbon, there are some solid bourbons produced outside the Commonwealth, including several from across the Midwest, such as Driftless Glen, Whiskey Acres, J.Henry & Sons, and Huber’s, among others.
The distillery dates to 1856 when Ben and David Holladay distilled their first batch of bourbon near modern-day Weston, Missouri. Natives of Kentucky, they knew how to make bourbon, and when they found limestone springs, they knew just what to do at the site they named Blue Springs Distillery, and becoming the oldest distillery west of the Mississippi River still operating at its original site. The first barrels produced at the site were aged in an ancient cave that had been used to cure and preserve meat (a meat packer had used the site previously). In 1894, operations passed from David Holladay to his son and son-in-law to become Barton & Holladay.
For a century, the distillery only changed hands three times before being acquired by the current ownership team in 1993 - the McCormick Distilling Company - a small, privately held company. Today, brands include a line of McCormick gins, vodkas, and whiskeys, 360 Vodka - an eco-friendly vodka, Platte Valley Corn Whiskey, Tequila Rose, Montego Bay Rum, Tarantula Azul, and the Holladay lineup. If the McCormick name sounds familiar, you might check granddad's bar, as nearly 200 different decanters were produced between 1968 and 1987, including cars, birds, Elvis, frontiersmen, pirates, and sports-themed collectible bottlings.
Holladay is packaged in antique bottle containing a sepia-toned label embellished with a barrel being rolled from a red flatbed truck into a warehouse. The reverse side of the bottle has raised DSP MO 5 prominently displayed. A faux tax stamp covers the screw top cap.
A label on the side of the bottle shares the following: Distilled Spring 2017; aged 6 years in Rickhouse C on the 4th floor; Bottled August 2023. The mash bill is 73% corn, 15% wheat, and 12% malted barley. The bourbon is labeled as Bottled-in-Bond and meets the following standards:
A single type of spirit
Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery
Aged at least 4 years (this one has been aged for 6 years)
Unadulterated (except that filtration and proofing is allowed)
Proofed with pure water to exactly 100-proof
And labeled with the registered distillery number and either with the real name of the distillery or a trade name. The bottle has a raised DSP MO 5 on the reverse side.
Wheated bourbons typically result in a sweeter tasting bourbon compared to those that include rye as the flavoring grain. From the website, we learn that Holladay utilizes Soft Red Wheat which has lower protein levels, red bran, and minimal gluten compared to other classes of wheat. Bourbons crafted with Soft Red Wheat offer a soft, smooth finish just as the name suggests.
Further, the bourbon is classified as a Real Missouri Bourbon, requiring it to not only meet the federal standards for bourbon whiskey, but to also be mashed, fermented, distilled, aged, and bottled in the state; aged in oak barrels manufactured in the state. Recently, the legislation even added that it must use corn grown in its home state of Missouri.
Color: Copper with medium-thick legs on the inside of my Glencairn glass.
Nose: Vanilla and fruit-forward on the nose - think gala apples along with earthy tobacco leaves.
Palate: Creamy, sweet, and smooth, leading with vanilla and apple, followed by baking spices, including nutmeg, and toasted oak.
Finish: Soft and sweet vanilla notes lead are followed quickly by oak and spice in a medium-long ending.
Overall: When I saw this bourbon pop on social media sites, it looked interesting. As I saw the Bottled-in-Bond expression and the 6-year age statement, my interest was further picqued. The clerk behind the counter ringing up the bottle chatted, "Nice choice. I've seen this flying off the shelves. You'll have to let me know what you think."
Well, this is a very solid bourbon. I included this in a blind wheated bourbon tasting recently with a friend and the two bourbons I had at the top of my list were both Bottled-in-Bond non-chain-brand products, including Holliday. The competition was tough with several industry-leaders in wheated bourbons. I enjoyed the smooth, easy sipping nature of this, with a nice balance of vanilla, fruit, oak, and spice. If you see this on the shelf, be sure to grab one and share the story of a non-Kentucky bourbon.