“Straight Edge Bourbon” Review

What do you think of when you hear “summer drinks?” Beer, gin, and rum probably come to mind. Maybe a white wine or a light red here and there. Bourbon, however, does not always make the menu when the thermometer reads over 80. This isn’t a surprise, since whiskey is known for its warming qualities, and who wants to get any warmer in July?

I’m a whiskey guy. Have been for years. I will drink it during any season. I have drank it in the middle of a blizzard in December, in the rains of April, the cool, crisp days of October, and yes, in the dog days of August. I’ve even had 100-proof bourbon on the beach before, but that was a questionable choice. I realize that I’m somewhat of an exception. Even some of the more zealous whiskey enthusiasts opt for warm-weather drinks when summer comes ‘round. But they miss it, don’t they? Don’t you?

Fear not. There’s a way to pick a summer whiskey.

First thing is first. Don’t be afraid of ice – it cools the whiskey and can bring out some of the more subtle flavors hiding behind the bite – and don’t be afraid of the freezer. Jimmy Russell, the senior master distiller of Wild Turkey, keeps a bottle of Rare Breed in his freezer to quell those Kentucky summer days. The freezer is fit for more than just vodka and frozen peas. But whether or not you opt for the freezer, it’s important to pay attention to the mash bill, or in other words, what’s in the whiskey you’re drinking.

During the summer, I like bourbons with a mash bill that has a fair amount of rye. Rye tends to be lighter and spicier than a corn-dominant mash bill. It dances across the tongue, doesn’t weigh you down, and doesn’t lose any flavor. It isn’t easily overwhelmed by the corn profile like wheat is. One whiskey that I came across that fits this bill is Straight Edge.

Straight Edge is a blend of five, seven, and eight-year bourbons from Kentucky and Tennessee and is finished and bottled in California. Normally I’m a little apprehensive of any bourbon that isn’t solely from Kentucky, but Straight Edge didn’t disappoint. I have bought a repeat bottle, which I rarely do, and will likely purchase a third once I’m finished with this one. This whiskey has just enough sweetness so as not to dry your tongue out, but not so much that you couldn’t have a glass or two in the summer sun. The rye profile is high, but not so high that your tongue stays peppery for an hour after you drink it. On top of all that, it’s finished in Orin Swift Cabernet barrels to mellow out any harsh edges the distillers might’ve missed. It’s one of the smoother bourbons I’ve had in its price range.

So throw it in the freezer. Grab a couple ice cubes out of the cooler and toss them in a glass of it. When you’re sipping a weak rum cocktail and longing for the bourbons you save for fall, turn to Straight Edge. Think of it dancing across your palette, tamed only by your chilled glass and some ice. Think of those Cabernet barrels mellowing out the heat factor. Think of a summer bourbon, and then think of having a second glass.

by Joshua Wayman

Kenilworth Wine & Spirits

July 9, 2018