Oola Distillery hails from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, what reads like a fairly gentrified area of the downtown, central to the culture of the city. The name Oola appears to be a village in Ireland, a link that might be alluded to by the spelling of whiskey. They use the name Waitsburg for a couple of their products, this bourbon and a barrel aged gin. Waitsburg is a rural Washington town on the border with Oregon, but I can’t tell if it’s some personal connection or reputation nostalgia.
These guys seem to be doing some interesting things with flavoured vodkas and gins, keeping everything small batch; for example this bottle is etched, not marked, with Batch No 7 Case No 136. It doesn’t give a specific age, but 3 years is the minimum to be called “whiskey” in most jurisdictions, and we know that Oola got their permits in February 2010, so they’d have time for this to hit the mark. There’s not a lot of specifics available on the grain here either, but bourbon is typically 51% corn.
I’m hoping this year to do a bit more traveling and find more off the beaten track whiskies. I mean, this is pretty on the track if you live in Seattle, but I don’t. And there’s another consideration: my sister is a little too honest sometimes and declared the bottle while returning to the country from a short visit and ended up paying 160% duty on it. 160%! So while we tried to taste it at it’s normal price, it’s hard not to hold it to a standard two and a half times its grade. Here’s what we thought:
Devin – honey
Jono – vanilla bonfire
Simon – char, corn, caramel, dill
Ryan – honey, rosey, floral
Dan – strong, smokey rum candy, butterscotch, round, dill
Goran – cinnamon, candied cherry, spicy, rose
Devin – burn, then organic, finish is interesting, almost rubber tree
Jono – taste the cask, very smooth at the beginning
Simon – slight coca cola/root beer, slight sting in finish, a little young
Ryan – heavy burn, guess 47%, spiced, woody
Dan – very good, dill like, starts thick, thins out, strongly butterscotch
Goran – very like the nose, cinnamon, candy mint, earl grey tea
Devin – tempers the beginning and end, smoother, reduced rubber tree
Jono – bite gone
Simon – smooth toffee right over the tongue
Ryan – some better balanced, more sweet, cleaner
Dan – exactly the same, just less textured, muted sweetness
Goran – brings out more floral, too cinnamon, fireball
Oola Distillery Waitsburg Bourbon – 47% 750ml – $??? – Washington
Try it? Yes! Buy it? Don’t cross any borders with it.