Each year, we collect a handful of truly remarkable barrels from our rickhouse. It’s a rigorous process that has everything to do with taste and nothing to do with “hitting our numbers.” It might be one barrel out of every couple of hundred barrels, but when we taste a Cask Strength-worthy barrel, we just know. These barrels are set aside for a longer port finish aging process, and the result is always worth tasting.”

Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Wes Henderson explains what makes the 2017 Cask Strength release so special. “I’m very excited about this year’s release. I truly believe that this is one of the best we’ve done so far. It’s like children. You never want to say you have a favorite, and of course you don’t. But every year’s release is distinctive and has its own strengths. Our 2017 Cask Strength ranks up there with the top releases we’ve had so far. I think that it’s a very balanced whiskey. It’s the perfect combination of traditional bourbon along with those port finished notes that we’ve grown to love. This year, we’ve let the bourbon come out a little more than previous years, which makes it even more interesting.”

He clarifies, “By balance, I mean that even though the bourbon notes are a little more dominant, you are still getting the clear influence of port barrel finish. This comes in the form of rich dry fruits, creaminess, and an extremely smooth and long finish.”

When every year’s release is different, the selection process is never quite the same. “This year, as in past years, we didn’t set out with any particular preconceived notions on the release. As in other years, we pull out special barrels throughout the year and then make additional selections from those barrels to comprise the lot that will eventually be our Cask Strength release. What I will say is that one of the fun things about this process is that every year we have a different interpretation. It’s not that one year is better than another, it’s that every year is unique and a special treat. I think that’s what people like about this. Nobody tells us how many bottles we need to release. It just is what it is, which I think makes it more special. We do what’s right for the spirit.”