OLD DOMINICK HULING STATION BOURBON
single barrel #648 selected by Seelbach’s (2020)
MASH BILL – 52% corn, 44% rye, 4% malted barley
PROOF – 114.69
AGE – 6 years
DISTILLERY – Old Dominick
PRICE – $62 (includes shipping)
BUY AGAIN? – In a heartbeat!
I first came across Old Dominick while scrolling through the long list of options on the Seelbach’s website. Seelbach’s is an online spirits shop focused on craft distilleries. It was from them I was able to obtain a bottle of Great Wagon Road’s exceptional Rua Single Malt, as well as a spectacular McKenzie Rye single barrel.
When I ordered that McKenzie, to help make the overall cost of shipping more worthwhile I also picked up a bottle of Old Dominick Huling Station bourbon. Priced at $38, even with shipping added it was on par or cheaper than quite a lot of craft whiskeys. The price, the mash bill, the distillery’s story, the superb bottle design, and that Seelbach’s recommends it, all convinced me to give it a go.
I was so glad I did! Sometimes impulse buys do work out very well. Huling Station was a unique and refreshing tasting experience. So when I saw Seelbach’s was offering their own single barrel pick, aged 6 years and bottled at cask strength, I didn’t hesitate.
Here are some brief notes, taken two days after uncorking and three pours into the bottle, and tasted in both a traditional Glencairn and an Arnolfo di Cambio Cibi tumbler. Notes from both glasses are combined here:
COLOR – a dark, rich, vibrant Autumn orange
NOSE – bright cinnamon, dried mint leaf, creamy vanilla sauce, caramel dipped apple, fresh breakfast pastry like a cinnamon roll
TASTE – makes good on the promise of the nose, adding to those notes a nice warm flare from the proof, as well as black pepper notes, some chocolate, and a bit of oak
FINISH – at once warming and cooling like a black pepper and mint mélange tea, the oak, a drier caramel than on the taste or nose, remnants of the doughy breakfast pastry, and a faint dark licorice note wafting in and out
OVERALL – I don’t have a bottle of the regular Huling Station release to compare side by side, but to my sense-memory I’d say this is a darker, richer outing by comparison, and as welcome an addition to the shelf
It’s interesting to taste this bourbon in two very different glasses at once. The Glencairn brings out more of the creamy aspects in the vanilla and caramel, while the Cibi tumbler emphasizes the drier notes of the oak and spices. In either glass, it’s a very tasty whiskey.
What really struck me about the standard Huling Station release was the emphasis on and sheer variety of mint. Looking back at those notes, many recur here. This single barrel has the mint, but brings it more into balance with the other flavors. This bourbon tastes like we’re later into the evening, the moon higher, the light and heat from the fire hearth more evident in the cool night’s darkness. It’s a compelling but more reflective tasting experience as compared to the standard release’s jubilant freshness. I get less of a medicinal sense from the single barrel. Not that “medicinal” was at all a pejorative with the standard release. That was good medicine, for sure!
Huling Station is unique. It upsets the expectations of Tennessee whiskey established by Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel. It feels very 21st Century to me—distinctly contemporary, yet somehow old fashioned, like an old-style candy store revived, at once anachronistic and delightfully fresh.
The hyper technological advances of the 21st Century separate it distinctly from the 20th. With those advances has come an advanced pace in many areas of life, nostalgia included. The way past eras get piled on top of one another in graphic and industrial design, the arts, even our thinking. Politically, old ideas and new ideas now stand in sharp contrast to—often in utter conflict with—one another.
In a similar way, Old Dominick’s Huling Station bourbon seems to take old-school bourbon’s reputation as dark, brooding, and ornery, and renders it bright, optimistic, and delighted. It still tastes like bourbon, even old fashioned, yet entirely original at the same time. History in a bottle, venturing out into the future via the present.
Old Dominick’s master distiller, Alex Castle, hand selects these single barrels. The front label bares her signature. Thinking about Becky Paskin’s recent article on the “social terroir” of whiskey, based on the personalities of both the standard Huling Station release and this single barrel, and the thoughts and conversations they’ve conjured for me, I expect Castle’s leadership will continue to usher Old Dominick into national prominence and further contribute to shaping the industry’s future beyond the spirits she herself creates.
I look forward to the day I can buy Huling Station on my local shelf—alongside Woodinville, for example, a once local-only craft distillery from Washington state that eventually expanded its reach and added to the national conversation about what bourbon can be. These are indeed brands that build a bridge from the past into the future.
And they taste dang good.