Wolcott Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
If you're on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or just enjoying the Bluegrass, two regional liquor store chains to visit are Liquor Barn and Total Wine. In my recent visit, I observed each of the brands firing strategic shots at their competitor on large billboard signs. At each of these stores, you're able to sample some unique bourbons, and Total Wine offers free samples of some selected products and brands before purchasing. On a recent visit, after a sample and a chat with the store employee, I placed a bottle of Wolcott Bottled-in-Bond in my cart for an upcoming event with friends and family.
I've shared before that I'm a huge fan of Bottled-in-Bond bourbons. While some would say the 1897 Act is no longer needed, I still appreciate the nod to time-honored traditions along with the transparency and quality standards offered by the Bottled-in-Bond Act.
Wolcott is a store brand of Total Wine. This is not a new phenomenon. For years, Lux Row sourced bourbon and bottled for store brands across the country. Costco offers its Kirkland brand of spirits and the Binny's chain of stores in the Midwest offers its own Clark & Sheffield lineup.
For a bourbon to be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond, it must meet the following standards. It must be:
A single type of spirit
Produced in the same distilling season by the same distiller at the same distillery
Aged at least 4 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.
That last one is the key to finding who makes Wolcott bourbon. The bottle identifies that the spirits have been distilled and aged by the Clear Spring Distilling Company, Bardstown, Kentucky DSP-KY-12. While the name “Clear Spring Distilling” may not help our search, DSP-KY-12 is home to the Barton Distillery. Coincidentally, Barton, in addition to distilling their Barton and 1792 brands, also produces Kirkland and Clark & Sheffield.
Wolcott Bottled-in-Bond complies with the 1897 Bottled-in-Bond Act, including being aged for at least 4 years, and proofed to 100 proof. The packaging is a short, rounded bottle along with white, blue, and copper lettering. Like all of the members of the Sazarec family, Barton does not disclose the mash bill, though it would be a fair assumption that it is like the other core Barton brands that are thought to have a “high rye” mash bill, with rye making up 15-25% of the grain blend.
Eye: Golden honey brown. A few short legs are displayed in the glass.
Nose: Delightful, with caramel, peanut, and muddled mint.
Palate: Vanilla swirled with oak and spice. There’s not a ton going on here - pretty straight-forward. On a second taste, I catch some dried apricots amongst the other notes.
Finish: Medium in length, ending in a dry, astringent finish, loaded with vanilla, and hefty doses of oak char and cinnamon spice.
Overall: Similar to some of the other store brands produced by Barton, this is an “ok bourbon” - neither exceptionally good, nor exceptionally bad - just kind of meh. The flavor profile is uncomplicated, The higher proof (100) would lend itself to serve nicely in a cocktail, over ice, or when you need affordable bourbon for a crowd.