Originating in 2008 from the Ballast Point Brewery in San Diego, Cutwater Spirits is now a massive independent distillery and boasts being Southern California’s first post-Prohibition distillery. Sporting a wide range of self-made spirits, these guys have so far released several whiskies, a vodka, a gin, a rum, a liqueur, mixers, canned cocktails and more. Having started from a successful craft brewery the benefits to Cutwater have been numerous and have given them a big head start when it came to moving towards making their own spirits. With 31 awards and counting their flagship bourbon, Devil’s Share Bourbon, gets its name from co-founder Yusseff Cherney who figured that if what evaporates out of the barrel during ageing is known as the angel’s share then what’s left must be the devil’s share. Cutwater Spirits have kept a tight lid on their proprietary mashbill but from their long-time experience as brewers I can only imagine that they have a few surprises in store. This batch was aged for four years in heavily charred barrels so I’m curious to see what influence this has had on the final whiskey.
Name: Devil’s Share Bourbon (Batch #2)
Age: 4 years
Proof: 92 Proof (46% ABV)
Type: Straight Bourbon
Mashbill: Unknown (propriety mashbill of at least 51% corn)
Producer: Cutwater Spirits
Appearance: Light Gold
Nose: The nose is complex and flavourful with light floral vanilla and caramel that’s balanced with dark fruits, baking spices, and a maple-ish maltiness that I wasn’t expecting. The more you nose it the more the sweet but earthy malted barley makes its presence known, blending almost seamlessly with the traditional bourbon notes.
Palate: The palate picks up where the nose left off and gives a touch of caramel, tonnes of honey, light vanilla beans, and a healthy kick of earthy malt that’s unmistakable.
Finish: The finish is medium length and gives a tropical fruit and lychee heavy aftertaste with slight charred oak, vanilla and honey.
Overall: Many times I have described a bourbon as a vanilla, caramel, or cherry bomb, but this is the first bourbon that I would describe as a honey bomb. As expected, Cutwater have taken inspiration from their malted barley-driven brewing experience to craft a bourbon that is both unique and very flavourful with a lot of honey coming from the malt. This is definitely a bourbon for those that want something in between a classic bourbon and a light scotch and is another great example of how craft distillers are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible within a bourbon. Personally, I’m not a massive fan of single malt scotches but this bourbon has me reaching for pour after pour once I get started. For me Cutwater have hit the balance of just enough malted barley honey to compliment and round out those traditional bourbon notes.
It’s great to see more and more craft distillers producing and bottling their own whiskies. Although many have to source, Cutwater were in the fortunate position where they could make, age, and bottle their own 100% self made whiskies. The great thing about tasting a craft distiller’s own-made whiskey is that we’re starting to see very unique and sometimes amazing flavour profiles emerge that traditional bourbon has mostly shied away from. One common complaint around craft whiskies is the price difference in comparison to the whiskies put out by the larger distilleries, and so the onus is on craft distillers to create a unique and delicious enough product to justify their pricier whiskies to potential customers. This bottle in particular I’ve found retailing in Binnys for $129 which is a lot of cash for a craft whiskey which is only 4 years old. However, for those that have the money and are looking for something that they’ve never had before there’s a high chance this will impress.
Try or Buy?
This is a very interesting bourbon and so I’d definitely recommend that you try this if you see it on the back shelf of a bar. For the money there’s a lot of other options available but if you, like me, want to try something truly unique and very flavourful this bourbon will fit the bill nicely.