I’ve had a chance to try a couple of Pinhook varieties, including a 2018 release and
2019 release. Each time, I’ve been seeking to capture the allure of a bourbon that was not only aged, but produced, barreled, aged, and bottled at the Old Taylor Distillery (now called Castle & Key). I first eyed eyed Pinhook barrels aging in the massive 534-foot-long Warehouse B – the longest of its kind in the world. Would this finally be the one?
The first Kentucky-produced Pinhook
Up until this rendition, the Pinhook brand has been sourcing barrels, aging them, and selling the finished spirits. The name “pinhook” is a thoroughbred racing term used to describe the process of purchasing young thoroughbred horses, raising them until maturity, and selling them to become racehorses. The founders, up until Bohemian Bourbon, have been doing just that – pinhooking selected bourbon barrels.
For the past several years, the Pinhook brand has released a new, limited batch of bourbon in the Spring and Fall. Typically, these were sourced from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. However, beginning in 2017, Castle and Key Distillery has been providing the new distillate as well as aging the previously sourced barrels.
Bohemian Bourbon (the horse) is the first filly to appear on the Pinhook label. Foaled April 30, 2016 and owned [appropriately] by Bourbon Lanes Stables, she is described as possessing a light frame and build but a big heart and a strong will to win. In 10 starts, the young filly has 3 wins, 1 place, and 1 show.
Pinhook’s bottle takes a page from Maker’s Mark meets wine bottle. Each bottle is tall and slender – resembling a wine bottle – but topped with a colorful wax dip. This release from 2020 is bottled at 114.5 and is labeled “high-proof”. Bohemian Bourbon is the first bourbon in over 50 years to be distilled, aged, and bottled at the former Old Taylor Distillery. 100 barrels were used in this release, aged for at least 34 months, and blended by Pinhook’s co-founder and Master Taster, Sean Josephs.
The bottle carries a photo of the 15.3 hand racehorse Bohemian Bourbon. The mash bill is a corn-heavy 75% corn, 15% rye, and 10% malted barley. According to the Pinhook website, we should experience a bright nose of tangerine, preserved lemon, and brioche, which lead to a deep and lush palate of dried papaya, toffee, cocoa, and almonds. Let’s see if Bohemian Bourbon is more traditional – or tropical?
Eye: Light amber. There are thin, spidery legs dripping down the side of the Glencairn glass.
Nose: I catch butterscotch and toffee on the nose along with some lighter corn and peach and citrus notes. While this is youthful and uncomplicated, it’s nevertheless, enjoyable.
Palate: Light mouthfeel with more peach and spice followed late by vanilla and butterscotch.
Finish: Medium with spice, toasted oak, and dried fruit.
Overall: Pinhook has delivered another strong contender. While youthful and uncomplicated, like the little filly – Bohemian Bourbon – it did not disappoint. Don’t let the proof scare you – it’s remarkably smooth without expected heat. I’m happy to sample the first bourbon produced at the Castle & Key Distillery. Something tells me, though, that this could still benefit from a couple more years of aging in the large, brick Warehouse B where temperature extremes limit the movement of the barreled spirit mingling with the oak barrel.