In the last few years, you’ve no doubt noticed an influx of bourbon brands on the shelves, and although many of them don’t specifically bear the face of an entertainer or celebrity on the bottle, that is indeed the genesis point for many new brands on the bottom and mid-shelf. Bands and actors have piled on the bandwagon to launch their own bourbons in particular, and seemingly every country singer with aspirations of starhood has attempted to hitch his wagon to some kind of whiskey. Sometimes, it’s in the form of background investment and a more quiet ownership role, ‘ala Peyton Manning and Sweeten’s Cove Bourbon. In other cases, it’s just a shameless cash grab, with a singer slapping his approval across a 2-year-old bottle of 80 proof, sourced straight bourbon and hoping for the best.
It stands to reason, then, that with celebrity owned and sponsored bourbons being all around us, the “celebrities” of the whiskey media world itself would eventually get into blending and marketing bourbon rather than just discussing and evaluating it. Most of the stars of this industry are those who work in it—the master distillers and blenders, the distillery owners and mouthpieces. But there’s also the rapidly expanding world of whiskey media personalities, and few are more visible than the team behind Bourbon Pursuit.
Bourbon Pursuit is a podcast, or perhaps more accurately a network of various podcasts and videos, all centered around different aspects of American whiskey. To date, hosts such as Ryan Cecil, Kenny Coleman, Lauren Coleman and bourbon industry dynamo Fred Minnick have produced almost 300 longform podcast episodes, ranging from simple reviews to sprawling roundtable discussions of breaking news and industry topics. There are few in whiskey media that take such an in-depth and objective approach to covering the width and breadth of the industry.
And now, they have their own flagship whiskey! In actuality, Bourbon Pursuit founded their company Pursuit Spirits a few years back, and releases to date have largely been single barrels of various unique, cask-strength whiskeys from states such as Indiana, Tennessee, New York and even Washington. Given that each of those releases was usually in the 150 bottle range, though, Bourbon Pursuit needed a more standardized, universal flagship brand if they ever wanted to take this thing to a bigger stage. That whiskey is the newly released Pursuit United Bourbon.
This is a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys from three different states: Kentucky, Tennessee and New York. The Kentucky juice was sourced from the fast-rising Bardstown Bourbon Co., while the New York whiskey is from Finger Lakes Distilling. For the Tennessee portion, Pursuit Spirits doesn’t specify the distillery but knowingly acknowledges that it is “NOT located in Tullahoma.” Which is to say, this is one bourbon containing Tennessee whiskey that isn’t from Dickel for once, as is usually the assumption whenever “TN” is on a bottle. These three bourbons are roughly 4-5 years in age, non-chill filtered, and the final proof after blending ended up at a fairly robust 108 (54% ABV). Pursuit United carries an SRP of $65, and is being released in an initial wave of 2,250 bottles at Seelbachs.com and select retailers in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas, with a larger release of 8,000 bottles to follow in March of 2021. That’s certainly a whole lot larger than the single barrels Pursuit Spirits was packaging in the past.
We can assume that Pursuit United, then, is meant to be sort of a happy medium for this company’s vision and profile as blenders. So let’s get to tasting and see how they did.
On the nose, my first thoughts here are of nutty toffee—caramelized sugar and creamy impressions, combined with traces of nut butter and dry cocoa. There’s a bit more toasty/breadiness apparent as well, and it strikes me as mildly sweet. With time, I’m getting some more fruit, with a bit of stone fruitiness, as well as spice notes that evoke clove and anise. There’s a slight mustiness as well, but all in all it’s a pretty balanced profile that doesn’t stick out in any one aspect that dominates the impression.
On the palate, Pursuit United is a bit sweeter and richer than the nose initially led me to expect, with notes that combine honey and vanilla bean with more expressive fruitiness—orange and peach in particular. Those notes combine pretty nicely with some of the roasted nuttiness and Cracker Jacks felt on the nose, making for a well-rounded bourbon that has no shortage of assertiveness, and moderate heat that is appropriate for the proof point.
All in all: Solid bourbon! Perhaps the most impressive thing is that considering the relatively young age, this doesn’t read as 4-5 years old—it has more in common with bourbons at twice that age statement. This is good, considering that the SRP is $65, which is more in line with what you expect in higher age-stated bourbons from larger producers. It helps bring more value to this bottle, along with the decently high proof point.
Pursuit United will be an obvious acquisition for fans of the Bourbon Pursuit podcasts, but casual observers of the bourbon-sphere will want to keep an eye out as well.
Distillery: Multiple (sourced)
States: IN, NY, TN
Style: Blend of straight bourbons
ABV: 54% (108 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $65 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident craft beer geek. You can follow him on Twitter for much more drinks writing.