Editor’s Note: This whisk(e)y was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Watershed Distillery is one of the oldest craft distilleries in Columbus, Ohio along with Middle West Spirits. When Watershed Distillery opened in 2010, the distilling laws in Ohio were pretty regressive, so these two distilleries worked together to change such laws and opened up the playing field for other distilleries for the future.
Watershed Distillery founders started their businesses with no prior distilling experience. “When we started, we were two guys without any money, and we didn’t know how to distill,” says Greg Lehman, Watershed’s founder and CEO in an interview with Liquor.com. “Our whole philosophy was to dip our toes in the water and start small. Let’s learn so when we’re making mistakes they aren’t expensive mistakes. And let’s try to get really good at this.”
Recently, Watershed hired their first head distiller, Aaron Harris, who comes from Bardstown, Kentucky, where he was most recently the Distillery Supervisor for Lux Row Distillers. He has also served as Distillery Supervisor for Barton 1792 Distillery.
The apple brandy that Watershed Distillery produces is made from pressed 100% Ohio apple cider and is aged in charred oak barrels. These barrels then get used to finish the Watershed Barrel Strength 6 Year Bourbon. This bottle we are reviewing is the third iteration of this 6 year old house distilled bourbon, finished in their aforementioned apple brandy casks.
This version has a proof of 126.1, which gives it a slightly more kick. This whiskey is released by a lottery and sometimes shows up at their distillery shop. When first released last year at the distillery, it sold out in 3 hours.
Along with their Watershed Barrel Strength 6 Year Bourbon, they also have a 4 year version of the same apple brandy finished bourbon at 90 proof, a barrel strength nocino finished 4 year old bourbon, and a 4 year Bottled-in-Bond bourbon.
Other noteworthy apple brandy finished bourbons include Oregon’s Trail’s End 8 Year Old Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Apple Brandy Barrels, Black Button Apple Brandy Finished Single Barrel Bourbon and Nulu’s Experimental Release Apple Brandy Barrel Finished Bourbon Whiskey.
Tasting Notes: Watershed Barrel Strength 6 Year Bourbon
Vital Stats: 126.1 proof, undisclosed mashbill, 6 year old finished in Watershed Distillery’s own apple brandy casks, 750ml, around $90. Batch 003.
Appearance: Dark. Mahogany.
Nose: Apple pie with cinnamon, faint.
Palate: Spicy and semi-sweet. Definitely some crispy apple notes, unsurprisingly, but not overwhelming. Like a mild liquid apple pie with warming spices. Medium complexity with matching finish, though a mild spiciness lingers on.