Taste Test: Garrison Brothers’ Honey-Infused Bourbon Is a Flavored Whiskey Actually Worth Drinking
You might have read our take here already—if you come across flavored whiskey, the best thing to do is keep moving. But, as with everything else in this quirky and unpredictable world, there’s always an exception to the rule. And one such anomaly comes in the form of the new honey-infused bourbon from Texas distillery Garrison Brothers.
Garrison Brothers is a small Texas distillery that holds the title of being the first legal whiskey maker to operate in the state since Prohibition. The bourbon coming out of this distillery in Hye, about an hour outside of Austin, can be described using some classic Texas stereotypes—bold, brash, and big in flavor. The folks at Garrison credit this to the particular climate in which the whiskey matures, with hot days and cool nights that rapidly accelerate the interaction between whiskey and wood. Add to that the fact that the distillery uses smaller barrels in addition to regular 53-gallon ones, something that not every whiskey drinker is a fan of—but it happens to work in this case. There are annual limited-edition releases in addition to the core Small Batch expression, like the Cowboy Bourbon which we’ve covered here before.
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Which brings us to Lady Bird, a straight bourbon that has been infused with honey and finished in a cognac cask. This is sort of descendant of the Garrison Brothers HoneyDew release, but with a major difference. The details are as follows—the whiskey is aged for four years in new charred American oak before being infused with Burleson’s Texas Wildflower Honey and left to mingle for another eight months. Then the whiskey goes into French oak XO Cognac casks for an additional three years (really more of a secondary maturation than a finish, although the terms are pretty much used interchangeably these days). Finally, it’s bottled at 114 proof.
Lady Bird is a flavored whiskey you will actually want to drink, whether it’s neat or in a cocktail. If you’ve tried honey-flavored whiskey before, or even honey barrel-aged whiskey, you might be expecting a pretty strong dose of that flavor to hit you on the palate. But the effect here is subtler, which is likely due to the intensity of Garrison Brothers’ bourbon to begin with and the lengthy secondary maturation in Cognac casks. Yes, there is a honey note on the palate, but that intermingles with dusty oak, leather, freshly charred vanilla, rum-soaked raisins, and some baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. This bourbon will amp up your Old Fashioned game, or make for a nice sipper tamed with a large ice cube if the proof seems too intense.
If you buy a bottle, $5 will go to benefit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, which is as Texas a name for an organization as they come. The whiskey is a pretty limited release with less than 6,000 bottles out there (SRP $180). True, this is not going to be for everyone, especially those who just like their classic bourbons, which is a totally understandable thing to like. But if you’re feeling adventurous, give this a try. And if you’ve been keeping it safe with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey or Jim Beam Honey and are ready to branch out, this bourbon might just change up your whole whiskey game.
100: Worth trading your first born for
95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet
90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram
85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market
80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable
Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this
Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.
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