M

Milam & Greene Single Barrel

Let’s talk about bias.

Confirmation bias, specifically, is when we seek out information to support something we already believe. We see this all the time in the whiskey realm, with people fawning over bourbon and other spirits because the bottle is fancy, allocated, or commonly flipped by taters.

I have no shame in admitting that I’ve fallen prey to each one of those at some point or another, but I recently caught myself showing bias to a brand before ever trying a drop of their whiskey.

That brand: Milam & Greene Whiskies. You see, I stumbled across the Twitter account of Heather Greene, head of Milam & Greene (M&G, henceforth). Heather engages with the community of whiskey enthusiasts there, including anticipating our questions and sharing her perspective running a whiskey brand. It’s refreshing, and it didn’t take long before I found myself rooting for her and her company.

It’s because I’m a fan that I have been seeking out a bottle of Milam (pronounced “MY-lem”, thanks Heather!) & Greene’s latest release, the Very Small Batch Bourbon. Both out of curiosity and a desire to support a whiskey brand run by someone who interacts with the whisk(e)y nerds like she has, I searched for this bottle. Unfortunately, I’ve had no luck, even after checking the stores that carry the product according to their website.

I did, however, find other products from M&G. Curiosity piqued, I did some quick research on the offerings in front of me and decided to spring for a single barrel. I strongly considered starting with their triple cask – a blend of casks from Texas, Kentucky, and Tennessee – but settled on a single barrel instead, hoping to see how my palate aligned with the team at M&G.

To my delight, their website tells us that this year’s offering comes from Tennessee. The age and mash bill aren’t shared, but with a single barrel from another distiller I’m not surprised. (They do some distilling on their own, but my takeaway is that some whiskey is still sourced, at least for now.) M&G has indicated that their whiskey is non-chill filtered elsewhere on their website, so I’m going to assume that is the case here as well. This bourbon is bottled at 86 proof (43% ABV). The suggested retail price is $56.99, which is what I’m pretty sure I paid.

Since we’re talking about my bias, I feel responsible for sharing any preconceptions I have. Truthfully, as a self-proclaimed barrel proof junkie, reaching for a 43% ABV pour is not my typical approach. However, I’ve yet to hear a bad word about anything coming out of Milam & Green Whiskeys and with the perspective above on Heather and how she portrays herself and the M&G brand, I find myself excited and wanting to like this bourbon; I’ll be doing my best below to be truthful and measured with the final score.

Milam & Greene Single Barrel – Review

Color: Sweet tea (I say this confidently because I sat mine next to a glass of sweet tea, and they were practically identical in color).

On the nose: The first impression is that it’s light and delicate, but not simple. Candied apple, vanilla, honey, cherry Twizzlers, with back-end savory notes of cold cuts. At the end of my pour, revisiting the empty glass offers toasted oak, leather, and black pepper.

In the mouth: The texture demands attention. Smooth and silky, coating the front of the palate. The taste bounces between stone fruit and black pepper (in flavor, not necessarily in spice). Sweet and savory play well together, with suggestions of cherry, caramel, leather, and subtle smoke. The finish is palate-forward, medium length, light, and savory. I experienced a delayed “Kentucky hug,” which was a nice surprise.

Conclusions:

Actually, I don’t think I’m ready for a conclusion yet. As I focused on the tasting notes, a nagging voice in the back of my mind kept prodding with “Basil Hayden.” It’s so rare for me to drink any bourbon below 90 proof that I can’t help but wonder if I would feel the same about this whiskey in a blind matchup with the infamous 80-proof from Beam Suntory. So… I did one.

Specifically, I used this as an opportunity to try out a method of blind tasting that I’ve only recently learned about – a triangle test. (If I can geek out for a moment, there’s even an international standard for it!) Plainly, I poured two samples of one bourbon (this Basil Hayden 10 year that I reviewed previously) and one sample of the M&G Single Barrel, and then asked my lovely wife to mix them up for me so I wouldn’t know the order. The gist of this method is that you try to determine if you can pick out differences between the singular sample and the pair. For this test, I wanted to determine if (a) I could pick out discernible differences, and (b) how I felt about the bourbons in direct comparison.

I’ll spare you the play-by-play, and tell you this: the M&G is clearly better. Although, having these bourbons side by side made me appreciate both as delicate and approachable. At the end of the day, however, Milam & Greene’s Single Barrel won out with better texture, more complexity, and a slightly better finish.

Conclusions (for real this time):

Bias aside, I’m confident that I like this bourbon. I think this will be an option I recommend to someone just getting into bourbon, or if someone is looking for a nice gift; this seems like an excellent offering to anyone who is proof-averse, and this suits my palate much better than Basil Hayden. I’ll also happily display this to share with guests of any type, including other barrel proof chest-thumpers like myself.

In closing, my takeaway is that Milam & Greene’s Single Barrel can be appreciated by anyone.

Scoring based on Malt’s scoring rubric, I think this falls squarely in the “great” category. Even at a little over $50, this is such a delight in a proof range that doesn’t have much competition right now. For being great at what it does in its weight class, I’m going to bump the score up by a point.

Score: 7/10

CategoriesAmerican

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *