Craft Distilleries | Review

Green River Bourbon Review [2021]

May 8, 2021

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Disclaimer: The whiskey reviewed was furnished for free courtesy of the spirit distiller. The distillery did not pay us for this review. This review is our honest and unbiased opinion based soley on how the spirit tasted.

Green River Bourbon is a historic brand that had a killer slogan — “the whiskey without a headache.” J.W. McCulloch started making his whiskey in Owensboro, KY, in 1885 as KY-DSP-10. Sadly McCulloch’s success was short-lived as a distillery fire in 1918 devoured most of their stock and many buildings.

The property rested quietly through prohibition until it was purchased by the Kentucky Sour Mash Distilling Company in 1936. They went bankrupt shortly after starting construction. The bad luck continued. The Medley Distilling Company purchased the property in 1939. Buyers and sellers came and went but the Medley family stayed active at the distillery. They made popular whiskeys like:

  • Green River
  • Ezra Brooks
  • Mellow Corn
  • Medley Brothers
  • Kentucky Beau
  • Old Medley
  • Five Brothers

In 2014,  the Terressentia Corporation bought the distillery and began rebuilding in earnest. Master Distiller Ron Call bringing his 40 years of experience from Jim Beam Brands and Florida Caribbean Distillers consults on this herculean project to rebuild the abandoned Green River Distillery along with Jacob Call, his son, who manages the day to day and distillery under the newly minted OZ Tyler Distillery. Jacob starts laying down barrels in 2016. While whiskeys rest at the restored historic site, OZ Tyler joins the official Kentucky Bourbon Trail as a heritage member.

In 2020, J.W. McCulloch’s great-grandson Rob approved of OZ Tyler honoring the original legacy by changing the distillery’s name to Green River Distilling. “I’ve always wanted the distillery’s name back at its original location in Owensboro,” Rob McCulloch said. “It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885.”

Now here I am in 2021, tasting Green River’s four-year-old Kentucky bourbon whiskey.

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Green River Bourbon Review

Green River Bourbon Review

This bourbon was aged four years and bottled at 100 proof. They use all Kentucky corn much of which is grown in Daviess County. They use a Vendome 54” custom still and finish their bourbon in a copper doubler. The mashbill is 70% corn, 21% rye, and 9% malted barley.

Nose – 92 out of 100 Points

The aromas punch you in the face with rich honey, berries, and cherries — all cooked down and caramelized into a delicious pie filling. Charred oak rounds out a delightful nose.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

The honey turns into a decadent caramel on the palate followed by more cherries and deep barrel char. Cinnamon and white pepper counterbalance the sweetness and add depth. I also pick up dried plum and leather. In my Glencairn whiskey glass, Green River’s whiskey coated the glass which transferred to the mouthfeel.

Finish – 92 out of 100 Points

The finish sticks to your bones. It’s cherry, oak, and peppercorns.

Complexity – 93 out of 100 Points

When you are bottling a whiskey four years old and younger all the decisions no matter how little make a big difference in taste. This four-year-old bourbon has good complexity and balance with intense flavors.

Value – 92 out of 100 Points

Green River Distilling is doing it right with their focus on sustainability — all major ingredients are grown in Kentucky including the mash which uses 100% locally grown Kentucky corn. I also love a distillery that is making its own whiskey and patiently letting it age. After tasting this four-year-old bourbon, I can’t wait to drink more and also see what their bourbon tastes like in 6, 7, or 8 years.

Verdict – Silver 92.4 out of 100 Points

The Bourbon Bard Silver Medal

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About Matty Sims

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, Thrive Global and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys. He has also created single barrel stickers for Bourbon Pursuit and Total Wine.
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