Monday, September 2, 2013

Exam-o-Dram Big House Bourbon

It's been a very busy summer and the PR folks for Big House Bourbon sent me a sample a number of weeks back.  I haven't had much free time to sit down and spend the time to review this whiskey; until now.  I'll state that even though this sample was provided to me, that in no way taints my review; good or bad.

Big House Bourbon is an offering from Underdog Wine and Spirits in Livermore, CA.  They are not a craft distiller but source their whiskey and sell it under their own label.  I give credit to Underdog for stating right up front where they get their whiskey and what mashbill is used (more on that later).  Many "craft" distillers do the same thing (source) but add some goofy backstory about some family recipe or how their Uncle Ebenezer moonshined back in the day.  Big House offers no illusions and state they source their whiskey from LDI/MGP and use the 60/35/5 mashbill (corn/rye/barley). 

Another interesting factoid is they have an age statement of 6 years old.  The age and the 90 proof caught my attention.  Selling younger, lower proof bourbon will yield more product driving higher revenue but it's a nice touch they buy 6 year old bourbon and proof it at 90.

Now, I'll admit I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to whisk(e)y so it's a bit of a chore to take off my enthusiast hat and approach the sample with an open mind and I hope I succeeded.

The packaging and label are cool enough and the name plays on a prison theme; maybe a little gimmicky. 

Now, let's talk about the bourbon.  Color is a nice amber/golden hue and the viscosity is actually decent for a younger whiskey.   The nose is interesting offering up some mild baking spice, baked rye bread, moderate vanilla and slight floral notes.  The entry is quite zippy with some pleasant spice right up front.  About mid palate the spice diminishes and is replaced with some white pepper, citrus zest, burnt sugar, baking spice and mild oak notes.  The finish is not overly lingering but last long enough to enjoy the fading profile for a minute or so.  As the finish subsides, you are left with a slight numbing sensation on the palate.  Overall, a very nice bourbon.  At the retail price of around $20 I would pick one up for myself if it was sold in my area.  Hat tip to Big House.  You have a nice selection here.


  1. Richnimrod said;
    I too, like this Bourbon; more than a little. Especially at the relative bargain price of about $20. A six-year-old Bourbon with decent profile for $20?...that's hard to beat! ...And, it IS available here in Michigan!

    1. I agree. I mentioned this is a round about way, but the value proposition is actually good on this one. As you pointed out, for $20 for an age stated and 90 proof bourbon that tastes good? No brainer. I'll BOLO this selection in the event it shows up here in VA.

  2. Wow, $20? Really, I was expecting the usual $45-$60 pricetag that these sourced whiskies command. Bravo to Big House for keeping the price down!

    But Greg, I don't understand your paragraph about having to take off your enthusiast hat to approach a whiskey with an open mind. Are you trying to review this through a lens other than your own? You're a whiskey dork; own it! Ok, yes, you want to be able to evaluate the whiskey without pre-conceived notions regarding age, source and proof, but that goes without saying on anything you review, right?

    Anyway, well done! I haven't seen this in Chicago, but if I'm looking at a shelf of 'craft' whiskey in bottles with labels I've never seen and companies I've never heard of, I will buy the cheapest bottle with the most industrially specific label I see. I don't care about Ebenezer, just tell me where what I'm drinking comes from, how it's made, and give me a fair(ly cheap) price and I'll try anything.

    1. Aaron - my comment was more through the lens of the personal barrel picks. Sometimes I can be too critical of a standard shelf offering so I was trying to approach this bourbon as objective as I could be. You know the picks raise the bar so was trying to keep it real. Cheers buddy.