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Every Wilderness Trail Bourbon Reviewed

Dec 7, 2020

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by Matty Sims

Shane Baker and Pat Heist, Wilderness Trail co-founders, are the guys other distilleries call when they have problems. They started off running Ferm Solutions  (founded 2006) which has 450 plus yeast strains. And they’ve brought that science know-how to Wilderness Trail from their yeast strain to their sweet mash process (“softer, grain-forward whiskeys” according to Baker) to bottled in bond whiskeys.

Pat Heist is a Ph.D. microbiologist and is the genius behind the yeast at Ferm Solutions, while Shane Baker is a mechanical engineer and the master distiller at Wilderness Trail. I could say they are Batman and Robin, but I’m not sure who’s Batman. Maybe they’re more like the double-identity Spider-man duo of Ferm Solutions and Wilderness Trail.

What’s even more impressive according to Edible:

“We didn’t have to seek third-party capital to open Wilderness Trail, and we wanted to self-fund,” Baker said. “So, we added to our savings every year and strategized to get where we wanted to go. Ferm Solutions allowed us to do all that without debt.”

They started off filling 12 barrels a day and are now filling 150 barrels a day producing 2 million proof gallons annually. Slow and steady apparently does win the race — although having the dynamic duo of Shane and Pat probably helped too.

Shane Baker and Pat Heist, Wilderness Trail co-foundersI visited Wilderness Trail in the fall of 2018 and got to taste a 5-year-old bourbon out of their first barrel. It was delicious. I was hooked. I was lucky enough to do a tour with them as well. If you get a chance, it is a distillery you have to stop at just to soak in the wisdom from these guys (check out this hour-long mic drop with Dr. Pat Heist on Bourbon Pursuit).

Related:

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Which Wilderness Trail Whiskey is the best?

The Best Wilderness Trail Whiskey
94.3 Reviewer
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94.3 Reviewer
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91.3 Reviewer
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89 Reviewer
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Wilderness Trail 6-Years-Old Bourbon Review

Wilderness Trail 6-Years-Old

Wilderness Trail 6-year-old Bourbon
Wilderness Trail 6-year-old BourbonDetails
Off the Still137 Proof
Barrel Entry110 Proof
In the Bottle100 Proof
Mashbill64% Corn, 24% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
ABV50%
Char Level#4 Barrel Char AKA Alligator Char
Distilled and AgedDanville, KY
Age6-years-old
StyleBottled in Bond, Sweet Mash
Release DateJuly 2020
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$79.99
DistilleryWilderness Trail Distillery
Danville, KY
ProsPhenomenal Flavors from Start to Finish
ConsMore Boldness
AvailabilityAvailable to Buy Online
RatingGold 94 out of 100 points
InventoryKeep Stocked
Buy OnlineSeelbach's

This Wilderness Trail 6-year-old is thick. It’s got legs for days. And it’s burnt orange.

Nose – 95 out of 100 points

The nose is just phenomenal. It’s something I wanna go back to 100 times. It’s caramelized banana, vanilla, and torched meringue. The nose on this for a 6-year-old bourbon is out of this world.

Taste – 94 out of 100 points

The sweetness is less pronounced but the banana and vanilla are still at the forefront with undertones of charred oak and subtle baking spice. The banana is more like banana bread with toasted walnuts, cinnamon, and clove.

Finish – 94 out of 100 points

The finish is creamy vanilla pudding, glazed cinnamon rolls, and black pepper.

Verdict – Gold 94 out of 100 points

The four-year-old Wilderness Trail was already good but damn what two years can do. It’s matured and developed beyond 6 years. It makes me wonder what their bourbon at 10 or 12 years might taste like. And now that this bourbon is seeing a wider distribution it’s a no-brainer.

Wilderness Trail Wheated Single Barrel Bourbon Review

Wilderness Trail Single Barrel

Wilderness Trail Wheated Single Barrel Bourbon
Wheated Single Barrel BourbonDetails
Off the Still137 Proof
Barrel Entry110 Proof
In the Bottle100 Proof
Mashbill64% Corn, 24% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
ABV50%
Char Level#4 Barrel Char AKA Alligator Char
Distilled and AgedDanville, KY
Age4 to 5-years-old
StyleBottled in Bond, Sweet Mash
Release DateSeptember 2018
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$59.99
DistilleryWilderness Trail Distillery
4095 Lebanon Rd.
Danville, KY 40422
ProsLuscious and Sweet
ConsNeeds More Boldness
AvailabilityLimited Distribution
RatingSilver 91 out of 100 points
InventoryKeep Stocked
Buy OnlineSeelbach's

Great glass coverage. Long legs running down the curves of my Glencairn whiskey glass. The color is bronze.

Nose – 91 out of 100 Points

The nose is luscious and sweet. It’s caramel corn, toasted cream of wheat with brown sugar, and sweet corn soup fortified with butter.

Taste – 91 out of 100 Points

This wheated bourbon has a good mouthfeel and just the right amount of baking spice and oak at the back of the palate to counteract the prominent sweet grain notes. It’s an ideal whiskey to introduce a new whiskey drinker to the Kentucky chew.

After a good chew, black pepper pops at the front of the palate. The sweet notes are summer corn, light caramel, and brown sugar.

Finish – 92 out of 100 Points

The sweetness carries through but charred baking spice and pops of black pepper carry the day through this medium finish.

Verdict – Silver 91 out of 100 Points

The Bard Silver 300px

From talking with other bourbon enthusiasts, Wilderness Trail seems to divide opinions. It’s grain forward because of the sweet mash process as mentioned above with underlying sweetness. It’s not youth in my opinion, but I understand how some could taste that. For my taste buds, I love this wheated bourbon. It hits all the right notes. It’s balanced. And it intrigues my palate.

Wilderness Trail High Rye Small Batch Bourbon Review

Wilderness Trail Bourbon Small Batch

Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bourbon
Wilderness Trail Small Batch BourbonDetails
Off the Still137 Proof
Barrel Entry110 Proof
In the Bottle100 Proof
Mashbill64% Corn, 24% Rye, 12% Malted Barley (High Rye)
ABV50%
Char Level#4 Barrel Char AKA Alligator Char
Distilled and AgedDanville, KY
Age4-years-old
StyleBottled in Bond, Sweet Mash, Small Batch - 12 barrels per batch
Release DateJuly 2020
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$59.99
DistilleryWilderness Trail Distillery
Danville, KY
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing soon
AvailabilityAvailable to Buy Online
RatingComing Soon
InventoryComing Soon
Buy OnlineSeelbach's

Nose – 90 out of 100 Points

Right off the bat, I pick up freshly baked sourdough bread smeared with dark wild berry honey and rich butter. Rye toast with cinnamon. It’s a bakery in a glass.

Taste – 88 out of 100 Points

The front of the palate has a subtle caramel sweetness and yeasty dough note moving to rye toast, warming baking spice, black pepper, and charred oak. The mixture of the youth yeast dough and heavy spice on the back palate is an interesting combo.

Finish – 89 out of 100 Points

The finish is medium with good lingering spice, brown sugar, charred oak, and just a hint of that yeasty dough note.

Verdict – Silver 89 out of 100 Points


Wilderness Trail Small Batch Bourbon offers great viscosity with oily legs. This bourbon offers great complexity. What’s interesting is the flavor profile is so different than their 6-year-old with the same mashbill. I’m Wilderness Trail Stan. I love what they’re doing, so it’s a great value for me.

The Bourbon Pursuit Interview with Dr. Pat Hiest

Start shopping for bourbon clothing and accessories for your journey. The Bard’s Shop has custom tees and hoodies, books, barrels, and more.

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is the Editor-in-Chief at a digital media company. LeAnn (his wife) and his daughters Claire, Maddy, and Adele along with a brand new pup Booker live in Taylors, SC, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He enjoys cracking a well-aged bottle of bourbon with friends and sharing stories, or cracking one of his favorite daily sippers on the back porch while the pup and his kids play in the backyard. He is a storyteller at heart, and Bourbon has deep roots in storytelling.
By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The Bourbon Bard, PO Box 1501, Taylors, SC 29687, http://www.thebourbonbard.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email. Emails are sent by MailChimp.

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