CORNER CREEK 10 YEAR BOURBON
MASH BILL – undisclosed mash of wheat, rye, and corn
PROOF – 88
AGE – 10 years
DISTILLERY – Corner Creek Distillery (sourced in Kentucky)
PRICE – $65
BUY AGAIN? – Sure!
Very little official information is available about this low-key bourbon. The Corner Creek website does not appear to have been updated since 2014 and still plugs their now discontinued Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, a bottle easily mistaken for some lesser-known California chardonnay:
It would appear the Corner Creek 10 Year made its debut in the Spring of 2019, given a number of reviews popped up around then. It took almost a year for it to get out to California. The California warehouse chain, K&L, says they are the only retailer of this relatively new incarnation of Corner Creek in the state. And although they name Kentucky Artisan Distillery as its new shepherd, the KAD website does not mention the brand.
So, a mystery. Who owns this? Who distills its unusual mash bill combining wheat, rye, corn, but no barley? Who is bottling it? And why no website for an age-stated 10 Year bourbon, something increasingly rare in the bourbon-boomed world?
Let’s get to tasting it. I opened it a day ago and am already a handful of pours into the bottle. That tells you something. Given how very Kentucky it tastes, I poured it into a simple brandy glass. These glasses feel a little less highfalutin than the Glencairns and provide a similarly focused tasting experience.
COLOR – bright pale orange, almost pumpkin from some angles, with flecks of golden straw
NOSE – bright sparkly cinnamons, dusty oak, pre-baked bread dough, subtle apricot and syrupy cherry on a background of caramel
TASTE – light, with granular baking spices, a nice pepperiness, a bit of oak, the apricots and cherry baked together in a pie with caramel drizzled all over it
FINISH – the baking spices, a creamier but still subtle caramel, a whiff of the fresh baked fruit, a soft pepperiness lingering longest…
OVERALL – an easygoing, surprisingly flavorful bourbon emphasizing baking spices front to back, leaving me feeling like I’m in a kitschy 1950s Kentucky diner serving homemade fruit pies.
This is quite a nice surprise. At only 88 proof it’s not a forward-footed bourbon—which is in keeping with its utter lack of marketing I suppose. It does taste thinned out by water. But it’s good limestone water, and the bourbon is not chill filtered. That and a decade in oak have left it with quite an impressive flavor kick and a good deal of ease. It’s both smooth and textured. The wheat, rye, and corn mash bill offer spice, sweetness, and milled grains in equal measure.
Corner Creek is really easy to drink—tasty without demanding attention, complex enough without getting complicated. The price reflects the 10-year age statement. But to be honest I’d say it’s on par with Eagle Rare ($25-$35 and also aged 10 years) as well as Evan Williams Bottled In Bond ($20), itself mighty flavorful at less than half the age.
For those reasons the Corner Creek 10 Year won’t be a frequent buy for me. But it’s a perfectly tasty, simple, surprising bourbon. I can imagine it appealing equally to people new to bourbon and aficionados looking for an interesting, no-nonsense pour. It would make a great palate warmer for a tasting of Beam or Heaven Hill whiskeys. A good gateway pour for new bourbonites, and the old hats at the table won’t feel they need to put up with it while waiting for the Booker’s, Van Winkles, or Willets.
Good work, whoever makes this!