Milam & Greene Whiskey Distillery, of Blanco, Texas, is a concept built on an interesting blending foundation. Whiskey geeks know that Texas bourbon has a tendency to be its own breed, owing at least partially to the effects of the hot climate. What Milam & Greene has done in its core range of products is blend that Texas iconoclasm with the more familiar profile of Kentucky bourbon, but not exactly by sourcing spirit from Kentucky. Rather, Milam & Greene takes the intriguing step of distilling their own product in two very different set-ups: On a 300-gallon copper pot still in Texas, and via traditional column stills at the prolific Bardstown Bourbon Co. They then take things even further via blending, often incorporating well-aged stocks of Tennessee whiskey or bourbon. The entire process is quite a complex melange of influences, seen in brands such as Milam & Greene’s Triple Cask Straight Bourbon Whiskey or Port Finished Straight Rye Whiskey.
The latest release, meanwhile, is the first in a new series called Unabridged, a “literary-themed blend of straight bourbon whiskies,” made in conjunction with three whiskey expert blenders. The first is Heather Greene, CEO of Milam & Greene, while the other two are well-known whiskey writers in the form of Noah Rothbaum and cocktail historian David Wondrich. It’s a collaboration with online retailer Flaviar, an overproof blend showing off the wide range of influences that the distillery tends to incorporate.
Specifically, this is a blend of six different whiskeys, including 4-14 year old Tennessee bourbon, several styles of Kentucky bourbon (some with malted rye), and the company’s own Texas bourbon, which also features malted rye. All told, it incorporates a wide range of whiskeys between less than 3 years old and 14 years old, blended by Greene, Rothbaum and Wondrich and bottled at a robust 59% ABV (118 proof). It’s a limited release product with an MSRP of $90, with the “Vol. 1” no doubt implying a continuing series with more releases to come—we would assume that each batch will likely have quite a lot of differentiation. Vol. 1, meanwhile, is available at select retailers and via Flaviar for members.
So with that said, let’s get into tasting Milam & Greene Unabridged Vol. 1.
On the nose, Unabridged Vol. 1 leads off with fairly significant oakiness, split in terms of character—some more antique oak, and some portion that is fresh and almost resinous. I’m getting toffee richness as well, along with creamed corn, and faint hints of dark fruit. There’s suggestions of oaky spice as well, but overall the nose doesn’t strike me as all that distinct—although the ethanol is nicely restrained here for the fairly burly 118 proof. Still, it’s hard to read too much into the nose, in terms of what it suggests for the palate in a broader sense.
On the palate, I find this one to be on the oak-forward side, although it does have a nice sweetness up front, with toffee and praline/nut brittle, and vanilla, transitioning into more dry oak elements on the back end. There’s a lot of cinnamon sugar, which is pleasurable, with a lot of the spice elements feeling as if they originate in the wood, rather than dramatic rye spiciness. The flashes of dark fruit are there as well, but they’re pretty faint, while a mild bitterness suggests a bit of very dark espresso. Ethanol is somewhat aggressive here, certainly more forward than on the nose, while the oak tannin is pretty significant, drying out the back end considerably. Some nice notes, all in all, but there’s not a lot that is really striking me as a “signature note.”
The bottom line here, for me, is that Unabridged Vol. 1 reads as a fairly heavily oaked, tannic but still decently balanced dram, with nice wood spiciness and caramelized sugars on the front end, but it perhaps doesn’t feature the depth of complexity one might expect in a blend with so many very different component parts. It’s a fine effort, but at “limited release” pricing, drinkers may simply expect something with further layers of nuance.
Distillery: Milam & Greene
City: Blanco, TX
Style: Blend of straight bourbon whiskeys
ABV: 59% (118 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $90 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.