Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Drink Reviews whiskey
Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Before I launch into a review for this new bottle of Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon, allow me to re-use the recap of the company I wrote only a couple months ago when they released their first wheated bourbon expression.

Things can move pretty quick in the American whiskey game. It was just over a year ago that I initially reviewed Green River Distilling Co.’s straight bourbon whiskey, a flagship launch for the revived distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky, housed in one of the oldest distilling facilities in the state. A decade ago, that facility was effectively a ruin, but it was bought by South Carolina-based Terressentia in 2016, who renovated it and brought it back to its original glory. At the time, it was rechristened as the O.Z. Tyler Distillery and immediately began contract distilling for others while they aged their own in-house bourbon. In 2020, the name changed to Green River Distilling Co., and they progressed to releasing their solid value of a flagship bourbon (5 years old, rye mashbill, 90 proof, about $35) under master distillery Jacob Call in 2022.

The last year, though, has brought on another transformation, as Green River Distilling Co. was acquired by nascent powerhouses Bardstown Bourbon Co. in June of 2022. The companies have been kept separate from one another, with no blending (as of yet) of their own proprietary recipes or distillate, although it’s not hard to imagine special releases combining the two in the future. What Green River has now done is expanded its product lineup under new master distiller Aaron Harris, formerly of Ohio’s Watershed Distillery.

So there’s your get-up-to-speed. Continuing their string of new releases and Green River Distilling Co.’s expansion into 25 states in 2023, they’re dropping another first on us: Green River Full Proof Single Barrel Bourbon, the company’s first publicly available, cask strength single barrel expression. Also known as Head Distiller’s Pick #1, it rolled out in late July at a cask strength of 59.5% ABV (119 proof). Like other Green River expressions, this one carries an age statement of “at least five years,” at a pretty accessible MSRP of $60. That makes this a moderately aged and priced entry in the crowded field of cask strength Kentucky bourbons. So with all that said, let’s get to tasting.

On the nose, this one is lively and expressive, with plenty of honey, caramel, vanilla, ginger spice and apricot-like stone fruitiness livening things up. I’m also getting flashes of pepper and chilies–the nose has moderate heat in conjunction with that spice, it’s persistently present but stops short of being excessive.

On the palate, this is pleasantly sweet and spicy, with bold flavors and flashes of orchard fruitiness. I’m getting orange zest and apricot, lots of hot ginger and hints of cola spice, along with rye spice and tons of caramel and vanilla, with a kiss of slightly tart oak on the back end. The proof here is definitely robust, which has yielded both great sweetness and bold flavors up front, and then heavy spicy and sturdy ethanol burn on the back end. As the palate adjusts to the heat, I’m getting more mocha and tirimisu-like flavor to be found in the sweetness and char.

At the end of the day, you might judge this by saying that the booze isn’t incorporate quite as well as you might expect to get from some of the big Kentucky bourbon producers making a 115-120 proof bourbon, a whiskey that might have some more age on it. But at the same time, the flavors here are self-assured and crowd pleasing, and I’m warming up more and more to them with every sip. This just has a bit more brashness and bravado to it, let’s say. It’s not exactly elegant, but it is very fun, a rollicking bourbon that is packed with flavor. The more I drink it, the more I’m liking it, and I think this is probably my favorite product from Green River so far. Here’s hoping they keep up the momentum.

Distillery: Green River Distilling Co.
City: Owensboro, KY
Style: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
ABV: 59.5% (119 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $60 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin