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Whisk(e)y Reviews

May 2021

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Belfour Spirits: Hall of Fame Taste Test

If you look back at Ed Belfour's NHL career, he didn't just coast through the league or do just enough to win games. He was a Hall of Famer no matter where he went. So, it's no surprise that when it came to whiskey, Ed Belfour wasn't going to mess around. When he and his son Dayn decided to get into the spirits business, Ed wanted to do more than just slap a label on a bottle. He wanted to do everything. Starting in the Spring of 2016, they have attended the Canadian Craft Distilling Institute, Black Swan Cooperage Barrel Education, and Moonshine University in Louisville, Kentucky. Clearly, Belfour Spirits is about making spirits, not just marketing them.

 

At this point, Belfour Spirits does not have their own distillery, but that is already in the works. In addition to contract distilling their whiskey at Southern Distilling in Statesville, North Carolina, they are looking at sites in Kentucky and Texas to be home to their distillery. While I understand the draw to Kentucky, I think it would be more interesting to build a base in Texas, mainly because of what they are trying to do. These are not simple craft whiskeys. The Rye Whiskey mashbill starts with 70% rye, not what people would consider a nice simple rye. The bourbon sounds a little more straightforward until you hear that they finish the bourbon with Pecan wood staves. What I love about this is that Belfour Spirits is trying to do their own thing and make a name for themselves instead of doing just enough to get by. This is very much a continuation of Ed Belfour's hockey career.

 

Given that they are trying to be a new, unique player in the market, what have they accomplished so far?

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Belfour Spirits Rye Whiskey

Class: Rye Whiskey

Price: $78

Notes:​

  • No Age Statement, but near 2 years old according to Belfour Spirits

  • Contract Distilled by Southern Distilling, Statesville, North Carolina and bottled by Belfour Spirits, Dallas, Texas

  • Aged in new American White Oak barrels

  • Mashbill: 70% Rye, 20% Corn, 10% Malted Barley

  • Bottled at 47% ABV (94 proof)

Nose: 74/100

 

Fresh cut oak and pepper are readily apparent. A touch of cinnamon sits in the background. Something sweet at the edges, almost like caramel, but adding some water revealed brown sugar and banana. The fresh cut oak is almost overwhelming here.

 

Palate: 70/100

The fresh cut oak remains, but is not as overwhelming as on the nose. It is joined by a bit of caramel. Some pepper sits in the background. It seems a bit muddled, like it needs more time in the barrel for things to coalesce. With water, some brown sugar appears just like in the nose. Overall, fairly dry.

Finish: 78/100


Very dry finish. The fresh cut oak does not dominate as much here, allowing some brown sugar to get some attention. Surprisingly, the finish lingers a while and stays sweeter along with some pepper. Water does not change much here except to bring out more pepper.

 

Overall: 72/100

 

Recommendation: Worth buying a pour.

 

This is a very different pour. I've tasted a decent amount of whiskey, and I have never had that much fresh cut oak throughout a dram. This will definitely turn some people off, but there is something interesting underneath. The combination of brown sugar, pepper, and banana is not entirely a typical rye profile, and really tastes more like a high rye bourbon. The big issue here is whether you can get past the oak. To be clear, my tasting and your own can be a different experience. In speaking with a Whiskey Network colleague, he did get a foundation of oak, just not as prevalent as I did. So, definitely go try this somewhere to see how you like it.

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Belfour Spirits Bourbon Finished With Texas Pecan Wood

Class: Bourbon Whiskey

Price: $78

Notes:​

  • No Age Statement, but near 2 years old according to Belfour Spirits

  • Contract Distilled by Southern Distilling, Statesville, North Carolina and bottled by Belfour Spirits, Dallas, Texas

  • Aged in new American White Oak barrels

  • Mashbill: 60% Corn, 30% Wheat, 10% Malted Barley

  • Bottled at 46% ABV (92 proof)

  • Finished with Texas Pecan Wood staves for 6-8 weeks

Nose: 82/100

 

Caramel and vanilla lead, but there is a touch of pecan supporting them. Definitely a decent amount of ethanol as well. Butterscotch appears, but not quite as obvious as the others.

 

Palate: 78/100

Light and oily. Graham crackers are the star here. The pecans sit more in the background. Just a touch of barrel char appears after a while. Very little heat compared to what was found on the nose.

 

Finish: 78/100


This is a very mellow finish. Sugared pecans and caramel come forward quickly. Vanilla and barrel char do make an appearance but mostly in the background. Graham cracker is very faint. Overall, a medium length, slightly warming finish.

Overall: 79/100

 

Recommendation: Must try!

 

When I was first tasting this bourbon, I had no idea what the mashbill was. Once I found out, things started to fall into place. Being a wheated bourbon, I am not surprised to find the mellow finish or the palate to be lighter. That seems to be fairly common in a lighter proof wheated bourbon. What is really surprising is how well the pecan wood finish works with the bourbon. It really is a nice addition and complements the flavor profile immensely. By finishing with pecan staves for just under 2 months, it keeps the integrity of the bourbon while providing a lovely backdrop with the pecans. This is a great start for a craft distiller, and it will be really interesting to see what happens as the bourbon gets older.

 

What did we learn?

 

Overall, I have to admit that I am surprised at the quality of these whiskeys. For a craft distiller that has only been in the game for a few years, these whiskeys taste older than they are. A lot of craft distillers start with small barrels in order to age the spirit quicker, but it greatly affects the product in the end. Belfour Spirits went all in and is doing something interesting. The Pecan finished bourbon is really interesting, more because they really got the finishing right. There is just enough Pecan, it doesn't overwhelm anything and really complements the other flavors. As I mentioned for the rye, it doesn't taste like the typical rye. They are making a rye that ends up being an easy sipper like those "barely-legal" 51% rye whiskeys. Belfour Spirits is onto something good here, and you really need to pay attention to them. Now we just need to wait until their distribution goes nationwide.

Be sure to check out our interview with Ed Belfour HERE!