Distiller: Black Dirt Distillery. 45% ABV. Age: 3+ years. Mashbill: 80% local corn, 12% malted barley, 8% rye. Price: $40-50
Black Dirt Bourbon comes from the New York State microdistiller of the same name, nestled in the fertile valley just north of the New Jersey border where the corn for their mash is grown. (Full disclosure: I’ve got a soft spot for the place since I used to pick apples at the Warwick Valley winery/orchard where the distillery grew up, and often came home with a few bottles of the American Fruits brandies and liqueurs they made before they obtained a license for whiskey distilling.)
They start with points for transparency: their site lists age, mashbills, and char levels for every batch of their bourbon. I tried Batch 6: 45% ABV; 80% local corn, 12% malted barley, 8% rye; 3+ years in new American oak with char level 3. While not quite the first-glass knockout that Wyoming Whiskey was for me, Black Dirt, like WYW, has the unique local character that I think a true “craft” whiskey should, and it gets better every time I revisit it.
Heat on the nose soon dissipates, revealing red clay, black tea, creek stones dried in the sun. The palate’s on the dry side, quite spicy, with burnt corn on the cob and spikes of black pepper — intriguing, especially given the low rye content. With time, dried fruit, and walnuts enter the mix. Dry wood spice on the long finish. The astringency makes it great warm-weather sipper.
Black Dirt Distillery is definitely one to watch. Their latest single barrel is a wheater, which I’m going to try at the first opportunity. They’re only selling in NY, NJ, and CT for the moment, though they’ll be distributing in CA via Young’s as of 2016. Cheers, friends! – BO
Black Dirt graciously provided a bottle for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.