I fell deeply in love with Ransom Old Tom gin a few years back. I knew about it, and liked a lot, but it really got its hooks into me one long summer night when I was on a long Breaking Bad binge.
You know how it is: the cliffhangers are so extraordinarily well-executed that you tell yourself, well, I’ll just a watch a few minutes of the next episode, it’ll be fine, won’t get caught up in this again, I’ll go to bed soon. And then it’s 2:27 in the morning and you begin to bargain with yourself.
That evening/morning, all I sipped was the Old Tom, on a large clear rock, with a thin blade of lemon peel. Just a little hand-swirl to cool it down and it was ready to go. I still think of it as the perfect warm weather drink.
So when I learned that The Great Oregon Wine Co & Distillery, makers of that fine spirit, were trying their hand at a bourbon, I was excited. The organic farm and distillery, out in Sheridan, Oregon, had brought me one of my favorite things. Could they hit it again?
Pretty much so. The first batch, out now, is a blend of whiskeys distilled in Oregon and Indiana (you will have heard that story before), aged a minimum of two years in Charred American Oak, with a 4 Grain mash bill: 66% Corn, 23% Rye, 6% Wheat, 4% Malted Barley. The company intends to transition to 100% Oregon product, soon as they can.
Dare I say it? I think there is a house style at work here. On the nose, the bourbon has a balance, almost a delicate quality, that is similar to the gin’s presentation. On the palate, too, it delivers deep flavor without being overbearing. There’s just a nip of heat on the 44 percent abv, not a bite. It draws you back to it, like a good TV show. Toffee and caramel corn, a whiff of chocolate-milk mix and orange zest. I’d not mess with it, aside from a cube, though the company’s Master Distiller, Matt Cechovic, who may well be a genius on a Walter White scale, recommends pairing with Ransom Sweet Vermouth for a Manhattan. I do not object; it’s just not for me.
This bourbon will not unseat the gin, atop my pantheon, or shove aside some of the big heaters I love this time of year. But it is both elegant and delicious.