It is interesting to read the backstories of various bourbons and brands. Often, there is a homespun tail of a passed-down recipe or a family member tied to distilling. And often, these are more tales than truth. Today, we take a look at Yellowstone Select - a bourbon with actual ties to some of the earliest distillers in Kentucky
All in the Family
In 2010, brothers Stephen and Paul Beam (yes, that family) decided to continue a seven generation of Kentucky distilling. The following year, they broke ground on the Limestone Branch Distillery. by purchasing the Limestone Branch Distillery in Lebanon, Kentucky.
The family traces its roots to Jacob Beam who began producing corn whiskey in 1795 under the Old Jake Beam moniker. Along the way, the family tree includes Joseph Washington (or just J.W.) Dant (another great brand today). Their great-grandfather, Minor Case Beam, began work at the Early Times Distillery in 1871, and a little over a decade later he was a master distiller. Soon afterward, he became a partner of the Gethsemane Distillery in 1883 and rebranded it as the Head and Beam Distillery.
In 1934, Minor brought his son Guy (Stephen and Paul's grandfather) into the distilling business followed by Jimmy, the father of Stephen and Paul. Today, the brand is part of the Luxco group and derives its name from the former Yellowstone Distillery and Yellowstone National Park. In fact, $1.50 from every bottle of Yellowstone Select sold - up to $30,000 annually - is donated to the National Parks Conservation Association to assist in the protection of the National Park System.
Many distillers speak of passed-down family recipes, this is one that actually does come from Minor Case Beam - the grandfather of Stephen and Paul. It begins with 75% open-pollinated white heirloom corn, resulting in a lighter whiskey flavor. Other grains include 13% rye and 12% malted barley. The yeast was resurrected from a yeast jug attributed to Minor Beam that was on display at the Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky, and likely goes back even further - perhaps back to the original distillate produced by Jacob Beam.
While no age statement is present on the bottles, the website ensures that this bourbon is a handpicked blend of 4-year and 7-year Kentucky Straight Bourbons. The finished product is bottled at 93 proof.
From the label, we're told to expect leather with hints of citrus and oak on the nose, followed by spicy rye, soft cherries, and smoked caramel on the palate, and a memorable finish with brown sugar.
Color: Light amber with medium legs displayed inside the Glencairn glass.
Nose: Vanilla and honey, with light grains and baking spice. Some marshmallows and light oak are present, too. Nothing blowing me away, but pleasant, nonetheless.
Palate: Easy sipping and gentle with sweet cream corn muffins, light spice, followed by oak and brown sugar.
Finish: Oak, spice, and vanilla lead quickly to a medium dry finish.
Overall: This is a fine bourbon, albeit not super unique. It does come with a great family story. I'll be curious to see how the Limestone Branch and the Yellowstone line evolve. That said, priced around $40, this bourbon faces stiff competition from some other solid pours in this price range. Overall, not a bad pour, and this was a nice way to "mix things up” and taste a little history.