Garrison Brothers whiskey has quite a controversial reputation. They have won numerous awards and overcome very negative reviews to their initial offerings. They’re hitting the stride many current new distilleries are trying to overcome, and it shows with their more current recent offerings. They got their start at the beginning of the distillery boom, in 2008 and the lesson’s they’ve learned since are apparent in their latest release.
I was sent a bottle of their 2016 standard release to review, which does not influence my opinion in anyway.
Garrison Bro’s 2016 Flagship bourbon is comprised of Texas Panhandle White corn from farms in Dallam County. The corn was harvested in 2011 before being mashed, distilled, and barreled in 2012 for a bit over three years. It was then bottled in 2016 at 94 Proof [47% ABV] and retailed at around $100 USD. Fun fact, I received bottle number 2453.
Here’s what I think:
Nose: Sweet and young, three years isn’t a long time to spend in the barrel, and if I had to guess… these are about 30 gallon barrels. Definitely corn forward, but it also has a very yeasty smell like fresh dough or uncooked shortbread which is pleasing.
Taste: It is immediately a classic young, small barrel, cloyingly sweet and oaky up front. But after the initial bombardment, the whiskey comes into its own. Roasted corn sweetness, reminiscent of Knob Creek’s more spice and savor notes, and some good old fashioned kettle corn. It’s a rather creamy mouthfeel that coats your tongue without being overly tannic or hot.
Finish: The sweetness lasts all the way through which is not surprising for the heavy corn nature. It slowly gets a more tobacco / leathery profile that stops short of some American single malts like Stranahan’s or Defiant whiskey.
This is a tough one for me to work through. Garrison Bro’s has come a long way from their first release which was… tough as Texas booth leather. I absolutely love how far they’ve come though and their distilling knowledge has clearly grown by leaps and bounds since the beginning. Garrison Brothers 2016 release is a great representation of one of the new generation of distilleries and the lessons they learn in making their cuts, waiting for their stocks to age, and blending & releasing only the cream of the crop.
Where I think this Texas whiskey could really benefit is by letting their distillate rest in full sized barrels. I know how much of a struggle it is between releasing a quantity of ‘aged” whiskey to sell to keep the distillery solvent. At this point I hope future stocks are resting in larger barrels because they’re so close to becoming one of the first great new American distilleries.
If you like corn whiskey, this is definitely for you. If you like supporting small distilleries who are really trying to become one of the next household names, Garrison Bros 2016 Bourbon is a great bottle to put on your bar. It isn’t something you’ll savor and sip on all the time… yet. It would play very well in a sweeter old fashioned with some good aromatic bitters. It’s solid on ice too and will go down nicely in a shot… which might be hard for most to swallow at a top shelf price point. But the cost of this bottle isn’t simply a measure of quality, but a way for a small distillery to keep on going and perfect the craft they’ve been working on for almost a decade.
I feel that my review of Garrison Bro’s bourbon is unfinished. They’ve gotten better year after year and I’m eager to get my hands on 2017’s release and see how they’ve grown. If you’ve got the extra scratch and can afford to support a small distillery, I highly recommend picking up a bottle of this bourbon. If your taste is a bit more picky and high level and you’re on a budget, maybe hold off, but not for long… I have a feeling this distillery will be one of the big boy players after the bourbon bubble bursts and they’ve perfected their craft.
Garrison Bro’s Distillery
1827 Hye-Albert Rd,
Hye, TX 78635
1 (830) 392-0246