Possibly one of the best bourbons to come out of New York State so far, by a distillery you probably never heard of.
Notes: Last Shot Distillery is one of the newest distilleries in New York State ( producing, selling and aging products not just setting up as many are). Run by Chris Uyehara and a very small team, Chris is a master chef and pastry chef and brings his art and attention to detail to all his products. Last Shot uses water from the local Finger Lake Skaneateles Lake, with minimal filtering ( just to remove any chlorine) to maintain a local character to the water and spirit, rather than use RO water which to me is completely boring and neutral filler for a spirit. While the distillery itself is barely three years old at present, they still have a very ambitious whiskey program with stocks or Rye, Bourbon and even Triticale.
This is one of his newest releases The Last Shot Bourbon – a 3 Year -old bourbon whiskey aged in a new charred oak 30-gallon barrels. Previous releases were the first release from 5 gallons at about 3 months, then three times as big at 15 gallons and aged for 12 months then the 2-year-old from 30-gallon barrels‘. This latest release is 3 years old and comes from a 30-gallon barrel.
Although Chris is very careful to barrel when it is at its peak and not sticking to a particular age just for bragging rights or public perception.
Made in small – about 100 gallon stills, they concentrate on small batch and quality. Their current line up includes a nicely flavorful vodka, a 100% corn unaged white whiskey, a dry white maple distillate, a sweet maple distillate, a chocolate creme brullee bourbon cream liqueur, a gin, and an unaged white whiskey called Lightning Whiskey using a bourbon mash bill and named after a famous class/type sailboat that was made on the property. The white whiskey was put in fresh new charred American oak barrels and now that stocks of this whiskey have been aged and bottled now qualifies a bourbon and what we are reviewing today!
Appearance: Clear, beautiful Baltic amber gold, leaves a very even coat on the glass and forms legs and loads of droplets on the glass – more than I have ever seen in a whiskey!
First Impression: Corn, warm barley and rye sweet-sour notes with some sweetness, with wisps and touches of mint/grass, oak char, vanilla, spice are more present here than the earlier ( and much younger at 2 years old) . When you are using a 30-gallon barrel things happen rapidly. The char is coming on nicely without being a charcoal bomb, unusual in a 3-year-old.
Taste: A very nice whiskey, especially for one so young. Charming soft oily entry with touches of corn mash. Complex but fresh with corn, rye, and barley notes and a larger dose of oak and char giving it vanilla, smoke, tobacco, and leather notes than the previous releases without being overdone.
Drinks: Makes for an outstanding Manhattan with the bitters and cherry making for a lovely quartet with the right vermouth. While some may find the body a bit young and a touch light around the edges, this is how a Manhattan used to be, made with a young spritely whiskey. In an Old Fashioned and a Whiskey Sour the nice aromatics blend well with the other ingredients and make for a slightly lighter but charming version of those drinks than you would find in a say 6 year old whiskey, but the freshness of the whiskey, while still having woody notes is a refreshing change.
Bottle: Quite similar to the other Whiskey packages/products they produce and only differing in minor details ( such as the type of whiskey of course) Well done and distinctive label – unlike most. The label for the bourbons is a dark brown, with the Distillers Reserve Whisky being dark green. Other spirits have different colors for each type. making them easy to distinguish from each other at a glance. Clear glass apothecary type bottle with nicely weighty decanter type bottom and a good grade of glass and a black topped ridged stopper – which is particularly convenient as it affords a good grip for easy opening. Composite cork guarantees a good seal and no loss or leakage. Sealed with a black neckwear/capsule that has a thankfully contrasting pull ribbon and is easy to remove.
Overall a very attractive and easy to spot package on a store shelf, back bar, or home bar. Well done!
Cigars: Shade wrapper and probably Corona or maybe a small torpedo. Nothing that would overwhelm the delicacy.
Final Thoughts: A touch assertive, but settling in well with a lovely bouquet and taste that will not disappoint. Frankly somewhat amazing you could coax a bourbon along in such a small barrel for so long without it being overwhelmed. The thickness and coolness of the Last Shot Distillery aging cellar are closer to a Scottish Warehouse than a standard American rickhouse and a good bit slower than the old Mihters ( Pennsylvania) warehouse. Chris was able to tease out a good bourbon where many others have not in warmer warehouse/
A nicely done website that is simple to navigate and easy to use. A bit spare to be frank, ( OK maybe I go in for geeky details) but easy to get around and fast loading.