Belle Meade Honey Cask Bourbon Bottle: 145 Mash bill: MGP high rye; finished in casks previously filled with natural honey Proof: 113.6 Price: $120
For those unfamiliar with Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s Craftsman Cask Collection, it is a series of four extremely-limited, cask-finished Belle Meade Bourbons aged a minimum of 10 years and bottled at cask strength. The first release of the series, a Mourvedre Cask-Finish, was released in March 2018 and sold out almost immediately as a distillery only release. So what could the folks at Green Brier come up with to top such a successful inaugural release?
Enter Belle Meade Honey Cask Bourbon. Unlike the cloyingly sweet “honey bourbons” that are flavored with added honey, Belle Mead Honey Cask is finished in barrels that were used to age raw wildflower honey at TruBee Honey, an artisan honey producer in Arrington, Tennessee. To our knowledge this is the first honey finished whiskey ever produced; making it a true industry innovation.
Needless to say, we were thrilled to get a bottle Belle Meade Honey Cask for a review. Now on to the whiskey…
BELLE MEADE HONEY CASK BOURBON
Color: Dark caramel with hints of burnt orange
Nose: Sweet spice (cinnamon candy) and maple wood initially, with butterscotch, honeysuckle, and raw honey as it opens up
Palate: The first thing you notice is the viscosity – this is a thick, syrupy pour that immediately coats your palate. The proof hits you up front with cinnamon, burnt caramel, red raspberries, and floral notes that remind me of orange blossoms. The honey influence becomes apparent in the mid-palate and provides a raw, unrefined sweetness that deftly calms the high proof. The honey lingers throughout the finish with closing waves of oak, cinnamon, and nutmeg. This is a truly distinctive whiskey.
Conclusion: Belle Meade Honey Cask Bourbon is a pour unlike anything I have experienced, and that is a very good thing. My guess is that some bourbon purists passed on this limited-release thinking it was a fancy rendition of a flavor-added whiskey. Big mistake. While certainly on the sweeter side, Belle Meade Honey Cask remains a rich, mature dram that is anything but a flavored whiskey. We have no idea what the next Craftsman Cask release will be, but if it is anywhere near as unique and tasty as the Honey Cask, mark us down for a bottle – or two.