Founded in 1934 and headquartered in Hood River, Ore., Hood River Distillers is the Northwest’s largest and oldest importer, distiller, producer, bottler, and marketer of distilled spirits. This year they released Trail’s End, an unusual double-aged whiskey. The bourbon is initially aged in Kentucky in new charred white Oak barrels for eight years. It is then brought to Oregon, where it is steeped with Oregon Oak staves in stainless steel vats, brought to proof with glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood and bottled at 45% abv. The Oregon Oak imparts a bolder oak profile and does so very quickly, so it does not add more than a few months to the aging and finishing process. On the palate, however, the Oregon Oak adds a warm nuttiness that differentiates the Trail’s End from its southern kin.
Trail’s End Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (90 proof)
Nose: Oak and corn. Quite aggressive and masculine on the nose. Yet, there is a hint of maple sugar that ties things together and keeps it from being a beast.
Taste: The wood is a little too present for my taste, making the whiskey itself a backseat driver. Bringing it down to around 80 proof with a bit of water smooths things out somewhat, but the intense woodiness makes this an oak lover’s dream more than an all around bourbon.
Finish: A lot of bitter tang on the back of the palate with an almost sandalwood feel to it.
Overall: I think it needs work. OK overall, but too unbalanced between the spirit and the amount of time spent in and with wood.
GSN Rating: B-
For more information go to: HRD Spirits