Nose: Oak, wisps of last night’s campfire,, hints of wax, cloves, vanilla,, citrus, – oh, and some caramel later on.
Taste: Black pepper, cloves, oak, and youthful exuberance
Ironclad – adjective – unbreakable.
Ironclad – noun – 19th century armour-plated warship.
Now, we can add a third definition:
Ironclad – proper noun – a small batch bourbon with the heft of the first two definitions above.
Hailing from Virginia, Ironclad Small Batch Bourbon is one of the whiskies carried by Whisky Quarterly Ontario. The distillery itself, Ironclad, takes its name from the U.S. Civil War warships and, is located not far from the site of the Battle of The Ironclads – The USS Monitor against the CSS Virginia.
Now, this small batch expression is only one year old; however, like the Battle of Hampton Roads, this Ironclad Small Batch fires quite the opening salvo: an oak bomb. I liken it to a peated whisky. Not for the flavours, but for the experience. And that’s what Ironclad Small Batch Bourbon does here with this blast of oak. Yes, young whiskies can be a little bolder yet don’t mistake its youth for sheer impertinence. As this whisky sits, the oak washes away to reveal the bourbon spices, soft hints of smoke, citrus notes and caramel. Granted, the exuberance is still there but I find it a flavourful one.
Sipping the Small Batch, it reminds me, not in an impudent way but rather more in a more determined fashion, that the oak is still front and centre. Again though, the bourbon character comes up behind, with some “not loud but not shy spiciness”. It’s not thin in presence either. Rather, it’s oily and rich considering its birth certificate.
(Just a note: typically, when I review a whisky, I nose and taste it neat. This time, I added a few drops of water and found that it coaxed a little more of the sweetness out.)
This is not your I’m-in-the-mood-for-a-bourbon bourbon. This is more of an I’m-in-the-mood-for-something-different bourbon. As in peated whiskies, some people aren’t into that. And, I suspect with Ironclad Small Batch Bourbon, some people may experience that as well here. However, to the flip side of that coin, those who love peated whiskies lo-o-o-ve peated whiskies, hence the appellation: “Peat-Head”. So, with Ironclad’s Small Batch bourbon, consider me an “Oak-Head”. One last comparison if you’ll indulge me: Peated whiskies and Ironclad Small Batch are whiskies that are in the driver’s seat and don’t ask you to take the wheel. So, with that, I say pour a glass and enjoy the ride. Cheers.