Milam & Greene Whiskey Distillery in Blanco, Texas has announced the release of its new Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey: Batch 1. Their latest release is a blend of two mashbills, distilled and barreled in two states, matured in three and finished with French oak staves. This is the first addition to the Milam & Greene core portfolio in over two years, and the first whiskey to be awarded a Gold Medal at the 2023 San Francisco World Spirits Competition before it was even launched.
Milam & Greene was founded in 2017 and hired Heather Greene as CEO, Partner and Master Blender in March 2019. At a release event for the new Very Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey Greene shared some (insights on the release and a few) of the things she’s learned over the past four years as she’s shifted from a whiskey author to the leader of an up-and-coming whiskey brand. Simple things like you can’t pick up 38 barrels and expect to blend them in your tanks that can only hold 30 barrels. And as the person in charge, you gain a new appreciation for the role everyone plays on the team from distiller to maturation exoert to distribution and marketing specialist.
“There’s what you dream about and then there’s what you dream about that is actually doable,” said Greene.
“Blending is Like Putting Together a Bouquet of Flowers”
“When people celebrate the blender, which I do. I think to myself, if you’re already making and have really good barrels blending and batching shouldn’t be that hard. That’s how I think about it. Because I’m thinking it’s all going to be pretty good right. If someone is like, alright, go into the back of a [large] warehouse and blend a whiskey. I’m thinking, ok, I’ll go into the back of the warehouse and pick out these old rare barrels and you think, ‘Oh sure, it’ll be delicious.’ Eliminate a couple things, throw out the off barrels and keep the good ones and it’ll be pretty damn good.
“What’s harder is having the constituents in the first place. I think of it like a gardener because I garden a lot. The flowers in the first place are like each cask, a bush, a sage or a rose. If they are already beautiful, I have to make sure and care that those are already beautiful in the first place, where do I get them, how do they taste, do they grow in the sunlight, do they need this much water, do they need that.
“Then when I make a bouquet, aka a batch, they’re all going to look pretty good because I’ve already got my harvest, the beautiful roses to begin with. So, I think that being a whiskey maker now the challenge is the individual pieces and making sure those are good and then from there I can create the bouquet.”
2 Mashbills, 2 States and Matured in 3 States
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To create the inaugural batch of Milam & Greene Very Small Batch Bourbon Greene, with her master blender hat on, harvested 75 barrels of bourbon. She said she selects barrels based not only on their current quality but also on her predictions for the flavor development over time in barrels. She carefully chooses the location for barrel aging to ensure the extraction of the most flavor.
20% Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
The barrel recipe for Batch 1 is 20% Kentucky bourbon barrels distilled by Master Distiller Marlene Holmes at Bardstown Bourbon Company in Bardstown, Kentucky using Milam & Greene’s proprietary yeast recipe and signature mash bill of 70% corn, 22% malted rye, and 8% malted barley. The use of malted rye provides a rich texture and nuttiness that makes it approachable at a young age – a little goes a long way in terms of taste. For Batch 1, The barrels are aged in Kentucky and then Texas for just shy of 4 years.
80% Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey
The rest of Batch 1 is 80% Tennessee bourbon that was distilled with a mash bill of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. The particular barrels for this batch were chosen for their unique flavor character and will vary slightly from batch to batch reflecting the influence of the environment as the whiskey matures.
The barrels are divided into smaller batches to marry in 1,000-gallon vatting tanks before finishing. All combined, this batch is a reflection of the micro-climate on whiskey matured in three different states: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.
Small Batch: 0.00451% of the Entire Population Based Will Be Able to Purchase Batch 1 (Chuckle)
“At Milam & Greene, everything we do is in limited quantities because of our size, but I know the big whiskey geek question is: exactly how small is this release?” saysGreene who wanted to get in front of the question.
“With 75 bourbon barrels, we can release 1,500 9L cases of Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey: Batch 1. The amount of people who will be able to purchase this bottle is approximately 0.00451% of the entire population based on current U.S. Consensus numbers, a detail that delights our fans and makes me laugh at the same time.
“Using very small batches as the heart of our new whiskey allows for greater control over the final product. It takes much more attention to detail to produce an elegant whiskey using smaller quantities of bourbon and three different climates, but it allows for an incredible amount of artistry in flavor. I’m particularly partial to the delivery of esters in my glass, the refined fruit, floral and herbaceous notes harnessed mostly during fermentation and mashing that are often lost in many whiskeys. This is the type of Bourbon that is missing in many collections, and one I wanted to drink.”
Finished with Re-Freshed Oak Staves
To perfect the precise type of wood flavor without overpowering these refined ester notes, Very Small Batch Bourbon is finished with used Fresh oak staves. French oak casks that once held both tawny port wine and then Milam & Greene’s award-winning rye whiskey are broken down, then “cooked” in the 100-degree Texan summer sun, and finally house-charred to a crisp on the outside only. These crispy-on-the-outside, rye-kissed on-the-inside staves are tied in bundles and then steeped in Very Small Batch Bourbon for about two weeks in the vatting tanks. The distilling team tastes the bourbon daily during the finishing process to ensure a balance of flavors.
Batch 1 Tasting Notes
All combined this batch is a complex and sophisticated bourbon. The nose starts sweet and delicious, followed by some nuttiness, soft vanilla, and French toast aromas. The palate is fruit-forward sweetness at the beginning, quickly evolving to notes of black tea with fresh baked biscuit flavors in the mid-palate. The finish lingers with notes of fresh black pepper and cardamom and a hint of wintergreen. It is best sipped neat to allow the flavors to shine but it can be further opened up with a drop of still water.
Milam & Greene Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 108 proof (54% ABV) and is offered at a suggested retail price of $69.99 and is available now at select retailers in the U.S. and in Alberta, Canada as well as available on the Milam & Greene website and in the distillery tasting room.
This whiskey will be released twice a year with Batch 2 coming this fall.