The barrel we chose was bottled at 5 years, 5 months and at 58.5% ABV. Barrel #15E02-8 was stored in Rick house B-W3M8. The nose of this high rye bourbon shows an up front corn and rye husk note that is soon joined by sweet spice, spun sugar, maple, brown butter and some white pepper. The palate has an old school spice up front that gives way to sweet barrel char, warm baking spices and lift of amber maple syrup. D&M Tasting Notes
The story of Wilderness Trail begins with a modified version of “a man walks into a bar” routine. In the 1990s Shane Baker and Patrick Heist were introduced by a drummer in a grunge and hard rock cover band as possible bandmates. The trio hit it off, and while the gigs tapered off after a couple of years, Shane and Patrick’s friendship continued. Both were trained scientists and engineers, and Kentucky boys through and through. (Shane’s grandparents actually met at Kentucky River Distillery in their teens and later worked at Stitzel-Weller.) Shane Baker is a trained mechanical engineer while Patrick Heist got his PhD in Plant Pathology and microbiology, and spent six years as the Medical Microbiology Professor at Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. After the band didn’t exactly make it big, and their day to day jobs growing ever more tedious, they turned their focus to alcohol. Being scientists needing a bit of a paycheck to go with their passion, they started a company in 2006 called Ferm Solutions to act as consultants to the industrial and beverage alcohol industries. As Shane put it: “We can get out there, work with these guys, be consultants, apply what we know, learn a lot more, and then hopefully one of these days we’ll have a blessing to maybe do something.”
It turns out that being called in when things went wrong at the big distilleries and helping to work on the fundamental recipes and yeasts for the craft distilling boom was exactly the right thing to do for two STEM entrepreneurs in the mid-aughts. In the span of five years Ferm Solutions grew to be a top-three fermentation company in the world with clients ranging from beverages to putting alcohol in the tank. After this runaway success supplying others, their attention turned to building a distillery of their own, putting into place all that they had learned from the mistakes and successes of others. Wilderness Trail began in 2012 with a small still and a focus on being radically transparent and science (not tradition) based. For one, the grains are all from Kentucky and in fact come from two farms, with one that has provided the grains to them from the start. During the infusion mashing process for the grains they hold the water temperature at 190 before adding first the corn (which gelatinizes at 180 degrees) then the flavor grain of rye at around 155-160° and finally malted barley at 140-145° . This allows both for less energy usage and will not scorch the grains, which will lead to off flavors. Wilderness Trail is also unique in that they do a sweet mash, i.e. they do not add the previous mash into the new mash fermentation. They are also a chemical-free distillery by design, using only water and steam for cleaning. Being long time yeast consultants who have over 10,000 yeast strains to choose from, quite a bit of R&D has gone into the character that can come from different yeast strains.
The FermPro 1 used here creates an ester profile that works best in a rye heavy Bourbon. Shane has stated that this emphasis on “small grains” makes for a more flavorful Bourbon and one closer to the traditional flavors of a place like Stitzel-Weller. After distillation they use water to drop down the entry proof of the distillate to 55% ABV as this is the proof that extracts the best sweet notes from oak, while leaving behind unwanted off esters. If you would like more granular information on the process at Wilderness Trail, here is an excellent conversation with Malt Review. Having repeated this process over the last nine years, Wilderness Trail now has over 100,000 barrels resting in their rickhouses! The Bourbon we have for you this month is 64% Corn, 24% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley. It was aged in a Canton Cooperage #4 char barrel for 5 Years and 5 months in Wilderness Trail’s Warehouse B (little sister) with a rick location of W3M8. Over the years the proof went up from 110 to 117. Enjoy!
Wilderness Trail Store Pick Cask Strength Bourbon
- Availability: In Stock
- Quantity Available: 98
- SKU #: 9073