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A less than tasty vacation souvenir: Yellowstone Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week I went on a family vacation to Wyoming and Colorado. My retired mother, despite being moved to tears at the sight of mountains, had never seen Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons or Rocky Mountain National Parks. Being the good son that I am I felt it was my duty to make sure she got there. 

My mother can be a bit of a recluse. She lives in an extremely small town and seldom leaves it. She is terrified of freeways, especially if there are other cars on them. And deviations from her comfort zone tend to make her more than a bit nervous. But for all of that, I knew she would love these parks. 

My wife is an amazing trip planner. She finds the most amazing ways to make vacations memorable. In this case, aside from the destinations, she invited my cousin and his family along. He lives in Wyoming and the rest of the family seldom gets to see him or his kids. My mother was thrilled.

One night, before bed, we were sitting on a porch at the Old Faithful Inn. I was chatting with my cousin about whiskey. He likes whiskey, but isn’t as adventurous as I am about spending money on new things, sticking mainly to Pendleton, his go to. He mentioned that he saw a Yellowstone whiskey in the gift shop for forty something dollars. Now the only Yellowstone whiskey I was aware of was sold by Luxco and was a bottom shelf dweller. So, being confused, I went to look at this $40 plus Yellowstone whiskey. 

It turns out that it was a local craft whiskey that said something like “Something special from Yellowstone” as its tagline. But right next to it was a bottle of the Luxco Yellowstone Bourbon. It was priced appropriately cheap at about $6 for a small bottle. Being impressed by my surroundings, I decided to buy the bottle to share with my cousin. If nothing else it was a good excuse to try something I would otherwise not have purchased. 

I took it back to the room and poured a glass for my cousin, my wife and myself. He took a sip and made an interesting face. I knew that face. It was the face of a man who, unexpectedly, had been given a mouthful of something he didn’t like, but was too polite to spit out. I smiled. I’d seen that face before. And I took a sip myself. I mean it couldn’t be that bad.

It was. I swallowed it, looked at him and asked: “dump this out?” He agreed and we both went off in search of something better. I decided that instead of immediately dumping out the rest of the bottle, I would (voluntarily) do tasting notes for it when I got home. So here I am, a week, three National Parks and four states later, keeping my promise.

Yellowstone is a bourbon sold by Luxco out of St. Louis. They make some good value brands that I like, a few premium brands that I like and a bunch of things I hope to never taste again. The brand is currently sourced bourbon, but they recently bought a share in the Limestone Branch distillery in order to produce it there. The folks at Limestone branch have family ties to the brand on both sides of their family. Back from when I assume it was something to be proud of. It’s not now, but who knows. Maybe in a few years time, it will be again.

Yellowstone Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Purchase info: $5.99, 200 mL bottle. Yellowstone General Stores, Yellowstone National Park

Details: Aged 36 months. 40% ABV.

Nose: Dried corn, mint, citrus, confectioners sugar

Mouth: Molasses and mint. Very grain forward. Thin mouthfeel. 

Finish: Hints of mildew, a medicinal ethanol, mint and cloves. 

A frowny face because I really dislike this.

Thoughts: This was paid for by the generous support of this blog’s patrons. And it was such a waste of that money! $5.99 for a 200 mL bottle was way too much. I wouldn’t even use this for mixing. In fact, right after I took the photo above, I finally dumped it out.

But here’s an interesting tidbit. Yesterday, I got a press release from Luxco stating that they were releasing a Yellowstone Limited Edition for $105. If they hope to sell any to someone who has bought Yellowstone in the past, they might want to do as Kirin did with Four Roses and buy back all the existing rotgut so no one buys it in confusion. Of course, if you confuse a $105 bourbon with a sub $20 one, you might deserve what you get. But still, it would be nice to know that this product has gone the way of the Yellowstone Wolves. Wiped out only to be reintroduced when they’ve learned better. 


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