Bourbon Tasting: Wiggly Bridge Small Barrel Bourbon

BOURBON TASTING:  Wiggly Bridge Small Barrel Bourbon

During our yearly trip to Maine, I wanted to find a bourbon you just cannot get at a New York local liquor store.  There were a couple that I contemplated on but this one really caught my attention.  This one is Wiggly Bridge Small Barrel Bourbon Whisky from Wiggly Bridge Distillery out of York, Maine.

First of all, I love the name! And it is not because it makes me think of the four guys from Australia with the kids’ TV show (reminding me of when my kids were young; “fruit salad, yummy yummy!”, The Wiggles). Enjoying spirits can be fun.  I’m not recommending you drink to excess, but experimenting with spirits, creating cocktails, sharing with friends and family, letting stress leave your body, and just sitting back and enjoying life.  “Wiggly Bridge” just sounds like all of that.  The Wiggly Bridge is located in York, Maine and is a pedestrian bridge that is the smallest suspension bridge in America!  As legend has it, the Girl Scouts named the bridge in the 1940’s because the bridge wiggled as they crossed it.  Although I have not actually been to Wiggly Bridge, while looking at the Google Maps image of it from Route 103, you can imagine the scouts hiking across the bridge and having a good time.

I have been to York a few times.  In late September 1994, I took my then girlfriend and her three-year old son to Maine to visit my family and experience ‘Vacationland’ (and real fresh lobstah).  On the way up, we had to stop for the night and found a room at the York Harbor Motel located right across from York beach. Waking up to that view was breathtaking, especially after arriving the night before in the pitch dark.  Thank goodness it was almost October because in the summer you cannot just stop and find a room on the fly anywhere near there.  The next day we let her son discover the Atlantic for the first time.  He played on York Beach and got his bare feet in the cool, wet sand (o.k., we all did that!)  It was fun and relaxing watching the waves come up onto the sand and rocks.  That same trip, on the way back, that girlfriend became my fiance and later my wife.  So yeah, I remember York, Maine.  (That is her son in the framed picture at York Beach, 1994).  The other times we have stopped at York were to visit the Nubble Lighthouse which is one of the most photographed lighthouses on the East Coast.

Wiggly Bridge Distillery is owned and operated by Dave and David Woods, a father and son team.  Their journey started with joking around during a family dinner one day with a statement of “lets’s make our own whisky.”  And they did!  They studied the process, experimented, and even made their own copper still.  As son David says, “from hobby, to obsession, to profession.”  And they’re doing a great job of it!  Their products are found all over Maine, New Hampshire, and some parts of northeastern Massachusetts.  These include an award winning white whisky, rum, white rum, small barrel rum, gin, vodka, and, of course, this bourbon we are sampling.  In the near future, it is rumored they will be bottling agave (they cannot call it tequila because it is not made in Mexico).  You can check out their history and products at wigglybridgedistillery.com and on Facebook.

Wiggly Bridge Small Barrel Bourbon has a mash bill of 58% corn, 37% rye, and 5% malted barley. It is barreled in #3 charred, 30 gallon, new American white oak barrels and aged for under four years.  The bourbon is bottled at 43% APV (86 proof).  This small barrel bourbon has previously won 2nd place at the 2015 American Craft Spirits Association and a 2014 Bronze Medal at The Washington Cup Spirits Competition.

So, let’s have at it!!

Appearance: Light amber in color.  Crystal clear bottle with attractive label featuring York’s Wiggly Bridge printed on the glass in ink.

Nose:  Peat, apple, toasted oak.

Taste:  Complex flavor”, is certainly accurate, tobacco, cinnamon, leather, earthy.

Finish:  Not long lasting on the palate.  Definitely a young bourbon.

Price Range: $55 to $60 for 750ml.

Overall Recommendations/Comments:  I will be honest, as you should with reviews.  There were four of us tasting bourbon that night.  We sampled other bourbons prior to tasting Wiggly Bridge.  None of us really cared for this bourbon during our initial tasting – but wait!  Please keep reading and do not let first impressions impair your judgement if you want to try this!

I think the problem lies with the fact that we tried two other bourbons prior to this one that had similar mash bills to each other and were from the same distillery (Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace, both from the Buffalo Trace Distillery). Although we did cleanse our palates by drinking water, we should have had crackers or something else for the ‘buds’ to reset themselves.

So, as I am writing this and finalizing it for the blog, I am sipping on yet another glass of it.  This time it is in an old fashioned glass and on the rocks.  And I like it!  Honestly, I do. It has a pleasant taste and wonderful earthy finish that does not bite and lasts on the palate for a short time.  If you like peaty scotch, this bourbon is for you!  I’m looking forward to trying this in mixed drinks as well – such as old fashioneds, Manhattans or even a bourbon sour.  Wiggly Bridge uses this bourbon in their own special recipe for a Hot Toddy.  For straight sipping bourbons, I might go to this from time to time, but I think primarily this will be for mixed drinks.

Most likely, I will not be buying another bottle for the price they have for this small distillery bourbon.  Although the price is comparable to other small distilleries small batch bourbons, if I am paying $50+ for a bottle, I probably would seek something different.  For the collector and connoisseur, get yourself a bottle of this juice and judge for yourself.

WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to think you can sing. ~ unknown author

On a side note, Maine is one of the most wonderful states to visit.  So much coastline to see, small shops, harbors, and the fresh air is so rejuvenating to the body and soul.  York and York Beach area is a great place to visit as soon as you cross the border from ‘Massahampshire’ (On I-95, you only are in New Hampshire for 15 minutes, so it kind of blends in with Massachusetts – unless you are like my family and spend an hour and a half at the NH Liquor Store!).  I have not stopped yet at the Wiggly Bridge Distillery, but I will someday. If you happen to stop there before me, let me know what you think.

PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY