I don’t know what it is about this new release, but if someone came up to me and asked me to describe Kentucky in one single pour, I would choose Square 6, the first bottled bourbon released from (and made at) Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Louisville.
The high-rye bourbon recipe sings to my tastebuds. It’s a sipper for sure — don’t be adding anything to this except maybe ice. But at 95 proof, ice isn’t really even needed.
The name Square 6 comes from the plot of land that housed Evan Williams’ first distillery in 1783, which history claims is also Kentucky’s first commercial distillery. The Evan Williams brand, as you know, is owned by Heaven Hill.
At a press conference this afternoon, Artisanal Distiller Jodie Filiatreau was eager to share his new release with us, saying, “This is one of my babies. It’s truly a labor of love, and I can’t wait to see what you think.”
Filiatreau included some tasting notes during his presentation, and he offered up some actual ingredients on a plates for us to taste and smell along with. What this bourbon oozes are notes of tobacco, fig and honey, along with a bit of cardamom and cinnamon.
The tobacco smelled absolutely amazing, but the cardamom was a bit overpowering — possibly because I put it in my mouth, and I think we were just supposed to smell it. Oops.
But back to the bourbon. The high-rye recipe is 52% corn, 35% rye and 13% malted barley, and it was distilled right at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which opened in 2013 and makes one barrel per day.
Filiatreau says this first release of Square 6 will be one of many, as they have experimented with at least 12 different mash bills since they opened. This release features bourbon that was aged five years.
For a high-rye recipe, there’s not that harsh bite you might expect. Rather, it’s a balanced potpourri of rich caramel, vanilla, white pepper and a mellow spice, which could be the sixth Spice Girl.
Even Filiatreau said it’s not so much a gut-punch Kentucky hug but rather a nice pat on the back.
About 15 barrels went into this initial release, and when it’s gone it’s gone. But alas, there will be more varieties in the near future. Square 6 retails for $89.99 at the downtown distillery and a few stores in the area.