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Flatboat Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Review: Flatboat Kentucky Straight Bourbon   (77.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published July 07, 2016

Flatboat (Spirit of the River) is a private label Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by Sazerac Brewery Company  for the Alberta Liquor Depot Chain of liquor stores. Flatboat is produced at the Barton 1792 Distillery which also produces 1792 Ridgemont Reserve Bourbon. As a straight whisky we can deduce the spirit is aged for a minimum of four years, and as a bourbon we can further deduce the spirit was aged in new oak casks for that entire aging period. Unfortunately, because the spirit arrives with very little information either upon its label or upon the Sazerac Website, we can deduce very little else.

The spirit is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

Flatboat SAM_2612In the Bottle 4/5

Flatboat is housed in the tall whisky bottle shown to the left. The label which is printed directly upon the glass bottle caught my eye in a crowded retail setting and the price (which was very attractive) also intrigued me. The major minus however, is the complete absence of information upon the label regarding where the bourbon was produced and the age of the spirit. A quick google search indicated that this was a private label bottling for the ‘Liquor Barn’  (owned by Liquor depot) chain and that the 1792 Barton Distillery produced the brand at their distillery in Kentucky.

In the Glass  8.5/10

Flatboat is a bright amber whiskey with a hue which sits squarely upon the orange hues of a lightly aged straight bourbon. When I poured a sample into my glencairn and gave it the customary tilt and swirl, I saw the stubborn crest which formed on the inside of the glass release a few medium droplets which turned into legs that ran somewhat slowly back into the bottom of the glass.

The initial aroma from the glass revealed a dry grassiness augmented with spicy oak and tempered with light butterscotch. At 45 % alcohol by volume, I was expecting more of an alcohol push so I was pleasantly surprised to see very little sign of astringency in the breezes. When I returned to the glass, fine oak spices have built up aromas and bits of vanilla had revealed themselves. The initial grassy aromas have moved towards green tobacco and intermixed within all of the scents are bits of spicy orange citrus peel and a few almond-like scents.

At this point I am pleasantly pleased.

In the Mouth 46/60

The delivery reflects more astringency than the nose had indicated. There is also a firm bite of harshness which is perhaps a reflection of the bottling proof of the whiskey; but is also perhaps a reflection that the age of this straight bourbon probably doesn’t go much beyond the four years required by US law. Flavours of green grass and tobacco, as well as fine oak spice and sap seem to overwhelm the lighter sweeter flavours of butterscotch and vanilla. For me the whisky which promised me so much on the nose has disappointed on the palate and must now be looked upon as strictly a mixer.

I began to experiment with a few recipes. I mixed a Bourbon Smash, and an Old Fashioned. I decided that my preference was definitely for the Smash as the mint seemed to work well with the grassiness of the spirit. I also mixed a standard Bourbon and Cola, but the Bourbon Smash was definitely where I wanted this particular spirit to find a home (see recipe below).

In the Throat  11.5/15

The Flatboat seems to knock at the tonsils just a little more firmly than I would like and has an unpleasant spicy burn accompanying the swallow. After the swallow, the spirit leaves the palate puckered with a dry  bitter tobacco flavours lingering. It is the lingering bitterness which brings down the score more so than the astringency of the spirit.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

I was lulled into a false sense of security by the nice bottle and the pleasant nose, however, the spirit went downhill from there which means that Flatboat Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is pretty much a mixer. It favours Mint Juleps and Whiskey Smashes rather than Buckeroos. I might also be convinced to try it with a splash of ginger-ale.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

Flatboat Smash SAM_2614Arctic Wolf’s Bourbon Smash

2 oz Flatboat Kentucky Straight Bourbon
dash of Jamaican Rum (Coruba Dark Jamaican Rum)
1 barspoon Sugar Syrup
4 Mint leaves
1 lime slice
Mint Sprig

Muddle Mint leaves, lime slice, dash of Jamaican rum and sugar syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass
Remove the mint leaves and transfer to a metal shaker
Add Bourbon and Ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74   Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79   You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84   We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89   Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94   Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+        I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


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