In the past, a mention of honey and whiskey on a bottle label typically meant you had stumbled on a liqueur (whether that label said so or not). But in recent years, some distilleries have endeavored to infuse their whiskeys with honey in a different way, often by using a honey-filled finishing cask — a barrel that previously had honey in it. It’s a process that sounds pretty messy to say the least and has surely limited the achievable volume of such a product. Garrison Brothers, however, may have cracked that code. To make their HoneyDew, the distillery cuts down on the mess by forgoing the barrel treatment and instead creates cubes out of their used bourbon barrels that are soaked with a local, organic wildflower honey (Burleson’s, to be exact). Those cubes then steep for seven months in a stainless-steel tank filled with Garrison Brothers Small Batch. Let’s see if that process makes for a buzz-worthy bourbon. (Sorry, I had to sneak a bee pun in there somewhere.)
Garrison Brothers whiskeys typically have a burly aroma with quite a bit of mesquite wood, barrel char, and chocolate, and that’s present here as well, but with a noticeably silkier edge. It’s not honey, per se, but it is honeyed, a little more syrupy and perhaps a touch sweeter than the standard Garrison Bros. offering. Notes of orange peel and subtle florals offer even more complexity. On the palate, things mirror more closely the standard Small Batch with heavily caramelized sugars, barrel char, black tea, and brown butter. As the finish arrives, however, the profile brightens with notes of cream soda, orange zest, and old-fashioned butterscotch candies. Where the honey seems to really impact things is the mouthfeel, which is noticeably lush and round, with a more generous finish compared to the Small Batch. A success. With presumably a lot less sticky mess.