Hidden Barn Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Jackie Zykan, long-time Master Taster for Old Forester, recently left Brown-Forman to help an upstart brand come to market. Today we check Hidden Barn Kentucky Straight Bourbon, produced by the Neeley Family Distillery.
The Spores Give it Away Hidden Barn draws its name from distiller's mold - baudoinia compniacensis - that grows on anything near a distillery and rickhouses. During Prohibition, while bootleg distillers tried to hide their operations, baudoinia compniacensis gave their presence away. Today, the brand is made in the shadows of the Kentucky Speedway in the northern Kentucky town of Sparta at the Neeley Family Distilery. Master Distillery Royce Neeley, Nate Winegar, Matt Dankner from Denver's 5280 Whiskey Society, and Jackie Zykan lead operations. Along with Hidden Barn, Neeley also produces its own lineup of bourbon, rye, absinthe, and moonshine.
The Tasting This whiskey is labeled as a "small batch" product. Perhaps nothing in the spirits industry is as vague as the phrase "small batch". The marketing phrase could mean everything from a few dozen to hundreds or even thousands of barrels that are batched together. Since this is also labeled as straight bourbon whiskey, without an age statement, we can safely assume that it has been aged at least four years. The mash bill is 70% corn, 20% rye and 10% malted barley. This bottle is from batch #2 and has been bottled at 110 proof. Eye: Bright amber with just a couple lacy legs displayed in my Glencairn tasting glass. Nose: Corn-forward at first followed by buttery caramel corn with some light butterscotch notes. Palate: True to the nose, there is more caramel corn along with deeply toasted wood and baking spices. Towards the back-end, there is a bit musty corn and grain notes. After a second tasting, some lighter fruit notes and peach blossom were present. I thought a couple drops of water might tame the grain notes, but along with the musty notes went all the flavor. Finish: The finish is long and hot with a lot of wood and spice, along with peach and grain notes. Overall: The initial batches carried an MSRP of $75 - not quite a bargain. I appreciated that the team didn't rush a too youthful product to market. Was it good, though?
Not bad. I'd feel better if were two Jackson's less. At $75, though, it's hard to recommend. It will be interesting to see how the brand matures with Zykan's influence.