"This truly innovative bourbon confirms why I love tasting American spirits so much, yellow birch..."
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Seventeen Twelve Distillery, named after the year that North-Caroline formed, is using only locally produced grains to produce their bourbon. The corn, rye and malted barley might be the usual ingredients, what is not that common are the staves made from yellow birch that they use during the maturation in their casks. The yellow or golden birch is commonly found in the north-eastern region of North America and is often used for hardwood products such as floors, doors, furniture and toothpicks. It can also be tapped for syrup and is used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans. Interestingly, alcohol extracts methyl salicylate from birch wood, which is very similar aspirin. Sounds handy, having a countermeasure to a hang-over already within the booze.
Starts very spice, almost like young rye, with clear notes of fresh wood. Then come all kinds of berries (red, blue, cranberry) leading me into a short impression that this might be finished in wine casks. It isn’t, luckily (not my favourite kind of cask, let’s say). The cranberry note becomes more dominant, accompanied by cherries, a hint of cream, or more crème fraîche, and spiced corn. There is definitely a different wood influence going on. Kind of strange to pin-point at first. I also get hazelnuts.
Balanced with clear notes of corn, vanilla pods, rye spices and again that different influence of the wood. It is kind of prickling the tongue with green-ish flavours. Something nutty, but not common. Ah I know it, beechnuts. That is a first I get those in a bourbon. Not as much rye as in the nose, and more nuttiness, caramel, breads, caraway, pepper and peppered minty chocolate. Acceptable long aftertaste, although it feels still rather young and underdeveloped.
This is why I love tasting American spirits so much. I mean, Scotland might provide a higher quality in general, but there is often a lack of surprising elements in the spirit. This bourbon shows how real innovation (not putting something in a wine/port/sherry, or name your favourite grape juice, cask) can add something new to a standard recipe. Big cheers for Seventeen Twelve. Hooray!!! Now let’s hope they will add some careful extension of the maturation and we will have a belter of a bourbon. I saw that they already went for 15 months to over 2 years.
Big thanks to for sharing the sample!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •