My first introduction to the Bird Dog brand was a while ago. I liked to stop by the Burnsville location of one of our local chains because the guy they had working in the bourbon department was top-notch. We had fun whiskey conversations all the time.
Often, the chat would start with me asking what new stuff they'd gotten in recently and what they were expecting. During a lull one time, he pointed to something new they'd gotten in. It was one of the flavored Bird Dog whiskeys: peach, blackberry, something like that.
I was going through a deep philosophical dislike of flavored bourbon at the time. And since in my mind, Bird Dog was a "flavored Bourbon company" I never really gave them another thought. I've since softened immensely on the idea of flavored bourbon, figuring that I needed to shut up and just let people drink what they like. But for some reason, that initial impression of the brand was hard to shake.
Well, that is until I was walking through the store last week looking for something to review. I was walking down the bourbon aisle, waiting for something that I hadn't had before to catch my eye.
Yes, sometimes this really is how things get on the site.
Anyway, I was walking, and I noticed right next to Bookers was a bottle that said "10 Years Old" big and bold right across the label. Glancing down at the price, I saw that it was $35. "Well, shit," I said, "no matter who is putting this out, 10-year-old and under $40 is interesting." So I grabbed the bottle of Bird Dog 10-year-old and went on my merry way.
Now, once I got home, and I did have a few questions for the producer. I knew this was a sourced bourbon and was put out by the same people as the Calumet so I reached out to them. I figured if I had these questions, you would too. Jon Holecz, Vice President of Marketing at Western Spirits (the Bird Dog brand owner) was kind enough to answer my questions.
First, noticing the lack of Straight on the label, I asked: "There is no mention of the word straight on the label. Was this a marketing decision or does this not qualify for that designation? As it is a sourced product, I know that it can't be called straight if it is sourced from multiple states, etc. And speaking of sourcing, are you at liberty to disclose where it is from?"
Jon: "This was a marketing decision, and all of our bourbon is distilled and aged in KY. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to disclose our source for this bourbon. Sorry!"
My wife noticed the "very small batch" near the bottom of the label and wondered "how small is your very small batch?"
Jon: "Each batch uses less than 100 barrels in the Bird Dog 10 Year Old Very Small Batch."
And finally, I was shocked by an age stated bourbon for an affordable price: "A 10-year-old bourbon at an affordable price is something of a rarity these days. I applaud you for being able to pull that off. I guess my final question is how did you accomplish it?"
Jon: "We are very proud of our Bird Dog 10 year old. As Bird Dog is still a new brand to many consumers, we do not want to over price ourselves in the super competitive market."
I want to thank Jon for taking the time to answer my questions.
Bird Dog 10 Year Old Very Small Batch Bourbon
Purchase Info: $34.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine in Burnsville, MN.
Details: 10 Years Old. 45% ABV.
Nose: Bubblegum, mint, vanilla and a little dill.
Mouth: Good spice in the mouth, mint, vanilla, and oak tannins.
Finish: Medium length. Nice spice at the back of the tongue. Lingering dark chocolate notes.
Thoughts: This is a ten-year-old bourbon that I bought for $35. That alone makes this worth a look. The fact that it is pretty tasty helps too. It is a very solid, well-crafted bourbon that has a nice "well-aged" flavor. Good oak which is not overpowering, good vanilla sweetness, and good spice. It works well neat and holds up well in a cocktail. If you are trying to find something to compare it to, it sort of reminds me of a Barton bourbon. Yeah. I like this one.
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