The Limestone Branch Distillery is located in Lebanon, Kentucky and has a rich history in the heart of bourbon country. The founders of the distillery, Steve and Paul Beam, can trace their bourbon roots back 7 generations to 1795 when their great, great uncle sold his first barrels of corn whiskey. Their ancestors on both sides of the family remained intimately involved in the whiskey business over the next 215 years, at which time Paul and Steve decided to embrace their heritage and start their own distillery near the original sites where their family learned the craft. They broke ground on the distillery in 2011 and officially opened in February 2012. They initially started with sourced juice for their various products and quickly started releasing blends of sourced product and their own distillate. The distillery is currently offering a variety of products including the Minor Cask Straight Rye, the Yellowstone Select Straight Bourbon, and their annual release, the Yellowstone Limited Edition Straight Bourbon.
The 2020 Limited Edition Straight Bourbon is a 7 year-old small batch offering that has been finished in French Armagnac barrels. According to Master Distiller Steve Beam, the finishing process was designed to add complexity and dimension to the flavor profile of this aged bourbon. The 2020 release also comes in a newly designed bottle that definitely impresses at first sight. This bottle comes in at 101 proof (50.5% abv) and retails for $100.
Appearance – deep copper.
Nose – the nose is a bit sharp at first with a dose of ethanol but it quickly develops into some leather, plenty of rye spice, a touch of cocoa powder, and some dry oak. With time the Armagnac influence also starts to come through with notes of dried apricot and some dried citrus.
Palate – the mouthfeel is above average from the first sip and delivers lots of oak, vanilla, some rich plum, and a more prominent note of citrus peal. A relatively sharp spice also begins to develop mid-tongue.
Finish– the finish is medium-long and characterized by plenty of oak and spice. Some vanilla, caramel, and golden raisin are present, but the spice really continues to develop on the back of the tongue and it lingers pleasantly, along with plenty of oak, nutmeg, and more of those faint citrus notes.
Overall – I am not familiar with many Limestone Branch products, mainly because I haven’t had access to them, but I saw this beautiful bottle at a local store recently and at retail price no less. At first I didn’t have much interest when I saw the price tag and learned that this was a finished bourbon, but given my positive experiences in the world of Armagnac, I decided to take a chance. I DO NOT regret that decision.
This was a very enjoyable pour! At first, the nose had a little too much ethanol and was a bit sharp, but it quickly develops and provides plenty of nice aromas. I was also very impressed with the mouthfeel and the very minor influence from the Armagnac finish. This is definitely a quality product that is enhanced by the finishing, rather than one that is dominated by it. The flavors from the Armagnac cask enhance the dry and spicy flavors of this bourbon nicely without overpowering it. I never questioned whether or not I was drinking a bourbon because the bourbon notes dominate. In the end, I didn’t find the depth of flavor I was hoping for and the price tag is a little bit steep, but I am happy to have this new addition to my bourbon cabinet. If you can find this bottle for retail price I think it is definitely worth a try.