“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
I have been very fortunate through whiskey to have enjoyed a seat in many rooms. Those rooms have been spaces for both joy and pain. Those rooms have included people from different religions, genders, sexual identities, and more… but what has united us all is the pleasure we get from drinking whiskey.
It’s whiskey that has allowed me to speak to people from all over the world, but it’s also created opportunities for me to meet many of those people in person, share a drink with them, and often much more. The “much more” is what I do it for. It’s what makes the whiskey community such a shining example of what this world can look like: people embracing what we have in common and coming together for good. Sometimes that good is simply offering one another a simple pour or a sympathetic ear, but there are a select few occasions when an even greater opportunity arises. Today I’m going to talk about one such instance, where bourbon has created an opportunity to help those in need.
Let me pull back for a moment here and say that some of the finest folks I’ve been fortunate enough to meet thanks to whiskey are members of the Huber family, namely Blake, Christian, Dana, and Ted. They’re the family behind Starlight Distillery and I’m incredibly grateful to have spent time with each of them, because you won’t find a kinder bunch in the entire world. That kindness is a hallmark of their family farm, where you’ll often see one of them working hard in one moment and dropping everything to entertain a complete stranger in the next. It’s that very attitude that makes supporting their brand – a true grain to glass operation – so great. It just happens to help that they’re one of the best craft distilleries in America.
So, when I first saw the expression I’ll be considering today, I was happy to give it a try before I even knew the full story behind it. All I knew initially was that this would be the very first single barrel pick by Dana Huber. Having been lucky enough to try her cooking, I already knew that Dana has an outstanding palate, so I was immediately anxious to see what she had come up with for her inaugural selection. However, when I looked a little further into the story I found out that part of the proceeds for the bottle would be going to charity. I then learned that this pick would be supporting the Power of Pink organization to benefit the Norton Cancer Institute Pat Harrison Resource Center, to provide free support services for people facing cancer.
My heart leapt. The fight against cancer has touched so many lives, it certainly has touched mine, and so I was a bit overwhelmed to learn that Dana decided to make her very first single barrel selection of Starlight whiskey go toward such a charity. When I reached out to ask her about her motivation behind supporting the cause she had this to say, “I was asked earlier this summer to be a Power of Pink ambassador for the upcoming News & Tribune event on October 13th. I chose to accept the call because it’s important to me and the entire Huber family that we connect with causes that keep the health and well being of our community top of mind. What better way than to engage and extend a helping hand from our family to our community as we continue important cancer research.”
That’s not all, as Dana went on to say, “There are a total of 12 local ambassadors and we have each been challenged to raise awareness and funds which will be gifted to the Norton Cancer Institute Pat Harrison Resource Center. My goal is $5,000 this year and I’ve decided to release a ‘Power of Pink’ Bourbon. This bourbon is particularly special to me because I happened to walk into our distillery on a random weekend day and my son Blake asked me to participate in this distillation run of a very small batch, 3 grain bourbon. I assisted Blake by filling the barrels, taking direction, and doing a lot of listening and tasting. I learn a lot every time I can spend time with our team in the distillery and it’s amazing what goes on behind the scenes to create these incredible bourbons.”
As you can see, this release is special for a myriad of reasons and because of that I’ll be foregoing our typical format of scoring this whiskey. For me, the score is completely irrelevant to what makes this bottle great… though, to be sure, this is one of the best expressions I’ve ever had from Starlight. However, what matters much more is the fact that this bottle exemplifies the best of what this community is capable of, and that’s bringing people together. Whether that be mother and son, local business and charitable organizations, or anyone who is able to buy one and enjoy it with good company.
Before dispensing with my tasting notes, Dana went the extra mile of providing me with her own in addition to some details on the distillate. “This bourbon is 4.5 years old and was aged in rickhouse #2. The cask of choice was a very special Seguin Moreau Vanilla Toast char 3 cask from their Napa Valley cooperage and was bottled at cask strength at 115.6 proof. On the nose you will find bright notes of cherry mixed with sweet toasted oak and hints of caramel and classic French vanilla.”
As a final twist, I was able to crack this bottle open and enjoy it with my own mother, who I love dearly. In the spirit of this expression bringing Blake and Dana together I opted to invite my own mom (who is typically not a whiskey drinker) to enjoy a pour and share her notes here as well.
Starlight Power of Pink Bourbon – Review
Color: Amber with a touch of ruby
On the nose: Immediately I’m picking up a rich birthday cake aroma with the faintest hint of baking spice, some sweet oak, and even a touch of toasted coconut which is unique for me among Starlight releases. After swirling and sitting with this a while there’s also a savory note that emerges in harmony with the more decadent sweet aromas that were immediately evident.
Mom’s nosing notes: Banana, oak, and vanilla.
In the mouth: I’m at first struck by the fact the liquid coats your tongue and then bursts with that French vanilla/birthday cake flavor. The sweet oak finds its way to the roof of my mouth with just a drizzle of butterscotch while the toasted coconut from the nose finds a home on the tip of my tongue while gentle spice pulses through the long and mellow finish. This has so many high quality elements and like I alluded to above, this is one of the best representations of Starlight whiskey that I’ve ever had.
Mom’s tasting notes: More vanilla, smoky, but smooth going down. After taste has some spice.
I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve had the chance to meet Dana and the rest of the Huber family, just as I’m grateful that I’ve been able to try this expression and support a good cause. If you would like to learn more or donate to the Norton Healthcare Foundation then follow the link here. We all need to take care of ourselves and extend that care out into our communities. I always hear it said that “whiskey is meant to be enjoyed” but I would amend that to say whiskey is meant to be enjoyed with the people you enjoy. I encourage you all to continue to put your health first so that we can enjoy it together for as long as possible.