My friend “Neebs” recently returned from a long weekend get-away in “The Pine Tree State.” Yes, that would be Maine…York, Maine to be more precise. His wife surprised him with a trip just for two, sans children. Can’t deny that I am envious of this fact, but I digress.
During their cozy stay in the quaint, yet well known resort town, a visit/tour of the Wiggly Bridge Distillery ended up being one of their stops. Lucky for me! Named after the smallest pedestrian suspension bridge in the country, the Wiggly Bridge Distillery was founded in 2013 and has been producing an impressive line of spirits, including several award winners, since that time. Their selection includes small batch dry gin, vodka, white rum, award winning small barrel rum, white whisky and small barrel bourbon. Naturally, the small barrel bourbon is what stirred my interest. And graciously enough Neebs picked up a bottle for me to sample. Thanks Neebs!
Here’s The Bourboneer’s review:
The Wiggly Bridge small barrel bourbon is a high-rye offering with a mash-bill of 57% corn, 38% rye and 5% malted barley. It’s bottled at 96 proof (or 48% ABV). Along with the high rye content the 96 proof accentuates the nice, smooth, cinnamon tingle finish.
The bourbon is a “small barrel” offering which generally means the aging process is sped up as compared to the traditional size barrel method. This process also allows the distillery to have their product out to the market sooner (cha-ching $$$).
The age statement on the bottle says the spirit was aged less than 4 years, however, according to the distillery, it has actually been aged “for 10 months.” Anything aged less than 2 years does not qualify as a “straight” bourbon and therefore cannot say so on the bottle. But remember, the process of aging in small barrels accelerates the aging process which in turn gives the Wiggly Bridge bourbon that nice burnt caramel or amber color. Normally such coloration is not achieved for several years in the larger, traditional size barrels.
The nose of the bourbon certainly provides hints of dark fruit and wood, even leather to a degree. However, sweet tobacco seems to be the most prominent note. And if I am not mistaken, I pick up occasional whiffs of agave (tequila) which I’ve never quite experienced in a bourbon. I did not detect the usual vanilla tones found in many bourbons, but there is certainly an overture of caramel oakyness to the palate followed by a finale of ever-present sweet tobacco. And much like in the nose, I sense what I believe to be highlights of agave sweetness rather than the more common notes of honey. The finish doesn’t stray far from the company’s description on their website, “dry long and pleasant with cinnamon and clove.” That’s right on the money!
All in all, I enjoyed my first Wiggly Bridge bourbon experience. Due to its prevalent tobacco and fruit notes, this bourbon drinks much better standing on its own, with ice or with a little water to accentuate the complexity of the flavors. Personally, I don’t think it would blend well in most bourbon cocktails. Anyhow, a young bourbon with an award winning pedigree such as this should honestly be enjoyed for its own merits and not interfered with in a mixer.
I want to thank Neebs for supplying me a bottle of the Wiggly Bridge small barrel bourbon. I am very appreciative. I know Wiggly Bridge has only been made available outside the state of Maine for a few years now, but unfortunately I will still have to wait a bit longer before this hand crafted whisky graces the shelves in my local liquor establishments here in Maryland. Boo!
If you can get your hands on a bottle of Wiggly Bridge small barrel bourbon, I wouldn’t think twice before buying it. Cheers and enjoy!
Bourbon enjoyed while writing this article: Wiggly Bridge Small Barrel Bourbon Whisky, 48% ABV or 96 proof (aged 10 months), Wiggly Bridge Distillery, York, Ma.
References: Wiggly Bridge Distillery website (wigglybridgedistillery.com), “Wiggly Bridge”, Wikipedia.