Many people may not be familiar with Hood River Distillers, Inc., operating out of Hood River, Oregon, but chances are you have seen a few of their products on the shelf at your favorite liquor store. Hood River prides itself on being the largest and oldest importer, producer, bottler, and marketer of spirits in the Northwest, and is responsible for the Monarch brand of products, 44° North Vodka, and Lucid Absinthe, just to name a few. These aren’t products you would typically find in my liquor cabinet, but Hood River caught my attention when they released their first Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Trail’s End.
Batch No. 1 of Trail’s End originally debuted in August 2015 and since then two additional batches have been released. This review is of Batch No. 2, originally released in April 2016.
Not much in known about the juice in the bottle, other than it was sourced from an unknown distillery in Kentucky, it is made from a mash bill of corn, rye, and barley, and it was aged 8 years before making the long trip to Oregon. Once there, the bourbon was finished with Oregon Oak staves and then proofed-down using glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood. This bourbon comes in at 90 proof (45% abv) and retails for roughly $40.
Appearance – medium amber, with thin legs in the glass.
Nose – the nose is light and sweet, revealing notes of brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, caramel corn, and a few muted notes of fresh orange peel.
Palate – the sweetness from the nose definitely transitions to the palate, which is full of rich maple syrup, vanilla, and light rye spice. Oak, walnut, and some baking spice also develop, creating some astringency on the back end of the sip.
Finish – this bourbon has just the right amount of viscosity, leaving a nice coating and an overall pleasant mouthfeel. A light rye spice transitions from the palate, along with some toasted oak, but sweet caramel and dried fruit balance the the more astringent notes, creating a very pleasant finish.
Overall – Trail’s End is a rich, flavorful, and very easy-drinking bourbon, especially considering that it retails for a mere $40. Honestly, it has been a very long time since I’ve had a new-release bourbon in this price range that delivered such an enjoyable and well-rounded pour. This is definitely more of a sweet bourbon, at least compared to my usual selections, but I really enjoyed my multiple tastings of this bottle. I would have liked to find a little more bite up front, either through a higher proof or some extra rye, but overall this is a very enjoyable bourbon. At $40, you absolutely cannot go wrong adding a few bottles to your bourbon cabinet so make sure you keep an eye out for this bottle.