One of the advantages of our booming whiskey market is that we are seeing some unique concoctions come to market that would have been unthinkable years ago. One of these curious new creations is Straight Edge Bourbon from the non-distilling producer Splinter Group in California. Splinter Group is the brainchild of the Wilkinson Family Vineyards John Wilkinson and one of the California wine world’s most recognizable names: Dave Phinney of Orin Swift. While we cannot tell exactly where the base whiskeys are coming from (although we do know that it is a blend of five-, seven-, and eight-year whiskeys sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee), we do know that the final mash bill is 70% corn, 17% rye, and 13% malted barley. After blending, the bourbons are cask-conditioned in Napa valley in French oak casks that previously held Orin Swift’s blockbuster 100% cabernet sauvignon Mercury Head.
The combination of aging, mash bill, and the cab-sauv conditioning give Straight Edge a pleasant mix of the typical vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel bourbon notes alongside some deeper fruits and a touch of black currant showing up on both the nose and the palate. In the glass, the color is a gorgeous dark mahogany/toasted toffee brown that immediately catches the eye. The ex-wine casks add an extra level of depth and character to their base whiskeys which can be a welcome change of pace in the bourbon world. In the end, Straight Edge might not be a genre-defining whiskey, but it can stand up against other bourbons in its price-point and come out with its head held high. This is certainly one to give some attention to if you are either looking to branch out or if you need a gift for the I’ve-seen-it-all-already bourbon drinker.