I’m up in Seattle as I write this. I’ve been to Seattle and all over the Pacific Northwest a myriad of times over the course of my life, and one thing that always sticks in my mind whenever I visit: The Pacific Northwest is… well… eccentric. Who woulda thunk that Oregon, though famous for wine (especially Burgundian-style wines), would be on the forefront of the craft brewing craze?
Seattle, on the other hand, has been known for coffee. This is the birthplace of Starbucks. But besides Starbucks, little craft coffee houses dot the Seattle metropolitan area. I’m not a fan of Starbucks, but I am a BIG fan of good coffee. So I know that in Seattle, the lifeblood of my morning will be enriched and enlivened by good coffee.
Then there are the distilleries…
I have to admit that I had no idea that this Seattle had so many distilleries. I only learned this yesterday, while conversing with the bartender at my hotel, the Kimpton Palladian, right new Pike Market. I saw these bottles I had never seen before on his shelves and he told me they were all produced locally. So of course, I had to try them; well, not all at once. But in the few days that I’m here, I’m going to sample a few. Besides, they’ll give me subjects to write about here, which brings me to the subject of this post.
2Bar has got to be one of the most unique bourbons I’ve had in awhile. Most bourbons don’t take me by surprise, but this one definitely did. It has a weird nose up-front – almost offputting – but it finishes very well.
While I was drinking it, I looked for some reviews. Ratings were all over the map. Having from the wine world, when I see ratings that are all over the map, it tells me one thing: The item is unique. Some will hate it, others will love it, and typically, there’s very little middle ground. 2Bar fits that profile.
Interestingly enough, the more popular blogs and rating sites give it only a fair rating. Methinks that this is because they expect a fairly traditional flavor profile. 2Bar is NOT traditional. I think a lot of that has to do with the mash, that is made from 100% Pacific Northwest grains.
For me, while I’m not too wild about the initial aromas, from a pure flavor perspective. I LOVE this bourbon!
What I Smell
My very first smell of this was not all that pleasing. It was from a newly-opened bottle, right into a glencairn glass. My first thought was, yuck! Sulfur dioxide. But I swished the glass a bit to get some air on the liquid to open up the whiskey. Once I did that, smelled it again, and the unpleasant aroma went away. Then things got a little interesting…
With the unpleasant initial aromas blown off, there’s a distinct alcohol presence in the nose, giving a nod to the 100 proof strength of the bourbon. Underlying that is bit of honey, vanilla, and an ever so slight orange blossom. As the bourbon opens up over time, the alcohol aroma mellows out letting the other aromas bloom. It’s actually quite nice.
What I Taste
I was expecting a bit of burn from the 100 proof. But I was surprised by the smoothness. This is largely due to the silky mouthfeel, which is magnificent. Up front, I get more vanilla and honey which then gives way to a moderate burnt citrus peel, which forms the base of the finish, which is long and pleasing and transforms to black licorice; not that cheap, “Red Vines” black licorice, but that distinctive, traditional, old-school stuff.
This bourbon finishes in an absolutely amazing way. I love that black licorice taste and combine that with that silky mouthfeel, this is a totally distinctive bourbon.
How I Like to Drink It
More likely than not, I would drink this neat. I’d add a couple drops of water to help dissipate the initial aromas. I need to try to see how it would do poured over a large cube or globe of ice. I suspect that may have an even greater effect on the initial aromas. But I will have to see.
I have to get a bottle of this. It’s not an inexpensive bourbon at around $50 street. But this is definitely a sipper, so it will be on my shelf for a long time.