I think I just scored the two best bargains of high-quality bourbon in a long time! As I had mentioned in my review of Henry McKenna, I saw it and this Paddelford Creek on the shelves in Total Wine. I hadn’t heard of either, but at the price I got them for (about $20 a piece), it was a low-risk purchase.
But I have to say this about Paddelford Creek before I continue: I really enjoy this bourbon! It’s smooth and tasty. At the outset, it doesn’t seem to be too complex. But given some time and some air, there’s more to this bourbon than meets the eye!
As for the distiller, I’ve never heard of them. They’re out of Princeton, MN according to the label, but they don’t have any website, so I have a feeling this is sourced bourbon from a variety of places. I also feel that this could possibly be one of Total Wine’s in-house spirits. That’s NOT a negative mark at all. For instance, BevMo has their in-house wine. All of it produced and bottled by Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos. That’s some good shit.
I did some searching for information, and apparently, they used to call this a “small batch” bourbon. Now it just says “Barrel Aged.” And most early reviews kind of wrote this bourbon off, or were downright negative. Reviews as late as last year called it uninspiring. Is it complex with layer upon layer of aroma and flavor? No. For goodness’ sake, it’s a $20 bottle.
But is it bad? Quite the contrary. In fact, at 83 proof, it’s downright enjoyable. Right now, I’m drinking this neat with a single chip of ice added. I really didn’t have to do that, but I wanted to help it along. But I could see making a Manhattan or Old Fashioned or even Whiskey Sour with this. But I have to say that even neat, I’m liking it – a lot.
The snob in me says I shouldn’t like it. But as I’ve learned in the wine world, inexpensive does not at all mean a lack of quality or taste and this bourbon has both.
What I Smell
Fresh out of the bottle, you get a hit of alcohol, that gives way to oak and grain. But with a little air that gives way to honey, vanilla, a little coconut, backed by fresh stone fruit and a tiny bit of leather.
What I Taste
A little more leather and oak and much less grain on the tongue with a medium mouthfeel. Despite the lower proof, there’s a definite warmth. It is also not super-sweet, which I like. Up-front is a citrusy, almost grapefruit bitterness. Love it! More leather mid-palate with a touch of vanilla and fruit. The medium finish is slightly astringent and helps emphasize the citrus. After a while, a trace of apple can be noted.
Not sure why people have written this one off. I’m definitely going to buy it again. I like the lower proof rating. It goes down easy and has enough aroma and flavor to meet my needs. Maybe my standards are lower than others’ but I trust what I taste and this bourbon is definitely one that pleases me.
Update 11/23/17: I did a side-by-side comparison between this and Wild Turkey 101. I probably will stick with the Wild Turkey. Again, Paddleford Creek isn’t bad. But the 101 is both cheaper and far more complex than the Paddleford Creek.