Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Bourbon Review
By: Fork & Stave
Proof: 92 Proof (46% ABV)
I ran across this bottle at my local retailer last weekend and I thought I would give it a shot. I’ve read good things about the Hirsch label, but it’s usually about their older expressions that are well into the triple digit price range. This particular product from Anchor Distilling Company in San Francisco, California, has numerous accolades including a five-star rating from The Spirit Journal, Gold Medal from the 2011 Spirits International Prestige Awards, and “Best Bourbon” with a gold medal from the 2011 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Anchor Distilling Company was started by Fritz Maytag, one of the pioneers behind the start of the craft beer movement. I think there’s some confusion in the market as to where the original juice comes from for this bourbon. My information shows the product coming from KBD in Bardstown, KY. According to all of their information, ADC Master Distiller Bruce Joseph employs custom copper pot stills to produce this product. Bottled between four and six years old, the bourbon has a nice amber color in the bottle. While I found my bottle locally, I saw that Caskers is also carrying it.
Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I tasted this bourbon neat.
Nose: Vanilla mixed with honey, cinnamon, and oak. There is a lingering sweet corn note.
First Sip: This is a great tasting bourbon at the outset. It has a sweet start with a robust maple syrup character that is smooth and oaky.
Mouth Feel: This Hirsch expression has a light mouth feel that is clean and leaves the palate with a spicy transition to the finish.
Finish: The finish is quick with a little lingering heat and spice. I was left wanting a little more.
Summary: I think this is a great entry level bourbon at a mid-level price. The flavor profile is nice, but I think the depth and finish are lacking. Adding a little water or an ice cube can really change this bourbon’s character. I really enjoyed sipping it on the rocks. The ice brings out the vanilla flavors and tones down the oak and some of the heat. It’s a decent buy sub-$40 and has some unique characteristics for bourbons in the $30 price class. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, but it wasn’t quite 4-barrel material for me, despite the reviews.