- by Andy
Tucked between Orlando's Disney parks and the Ocala National forest, sits Florida Farm Distilleries producing Palm Ridge Reserve, a bourbon-style whisky from the coastal South. The distillers (and cattle farmers) Marti and Dick Waters only produce 500 cases of this whiskey every year, at US 90-proof strength (45% ABV), non-chill filtered and aged for what seems a paltry 9 months - to someone who is usually a Scotch drinker, at least - in small oak casks.
Thanks to some changes to Florida legislation in the 2012 - namely the repeal of House Bill 347, a Prohibition era statute preventing micro-distilleries from selling or tasting whiskey on-site, a number of craft distilleries have been freed up to make a go of it as independent businesses and many are thriving.
In the glass, the Palm Ridge Reserve dram has a rich amber colour, darker than most bourbons. On the nose it strikes me as a young, sharp spirit with a surprising amount of depth for its age, filled with light fruits, dark sugars and cut grass. The palate is chewy, just the right side of astringent with oak char and sweet orange. The finish is a creamy vanilla with a little hint of spice and a background hint of ripe grapes.
This is a really unique and complex whiskey that has given me much to think about in terms of short cask-aging. I'll admit I was expecting to dismiss this as a bit young and lacking in depth, but true to its Orlando origin, it's a veritable Disney parade of rich flavours. I doubt you'll see a bottle on your local shop shelf any time soon given their limited output but it's well worth seeking out if you can find it.
The Allman Brothers Band - Soulshine
- Florida natives, high achievers at a young age who could be relied on to choose the right notes.
A Dram A Day review
For a considerably more eloquent and informed review of this dram, watch Ben's own review video below.