Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Inside a former laundromat in the shadow of Autzen Stadium (where the University of Oregon Ducks play football) is Wolf Spirits. Eugene is a sleepy college town in my home state of Oregon. The city boast several world class breweries, it shares a border with Springfield, (which is the real city where Matt Groening based The Simpsons T.V. show) and several breathtaking hikes along the headwaters of the Willamette river. Now, an upstart spirits company calls Eugene home and is trying to punch above its weight class and age to compete with the heavy weights of the industry.
Puncher’s Chance Bourbon is wholly owned by Wolf Spirits, the brainchild of Umberto Luchini, formerly with Campari America. Along with distiller Ben Green, accounts manager Bradd Levitan, and Mr. Pickles, a Pit Bull rescue, the plucky upstart has been distilling in Eugene since 2017.
The company is founded in the site of an old laundromat because, “the piping was so good.” The company boasts a bourbon, a mezcal, and two vodkas. Puncher’s Chance takes its name from the boxing idiom indicating the improbable. Essentially it means a boxer who is out matched can still win if they can land one or two clean heavy punches. Puncher’s Chance believes they can win in the ring against any of the big brands if they have a good whiskey and a chance.
The brand has released The Undisputed, a single barrel expression with a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley. The bourbon sources five and six year old Kentucky Straight bourbon from I.J.W. Whiskey company in Kentucky. Having already received a Platinum medal at the Tony Abou-Ganim’s TAG World Spirits Awards in the American Bourbon Single Barrel category, they are making some noise in the ring and receiving attention.
“We were really trying to achieve something different with The Undisputed … how to capture the intense flavor of a cask-strength whiskey but make it a bit more approachable for a wider audience,” said Umberto Luchini, founder of Wolf Spirit. “Our partners at IJW Whiskey have done a masterful job creating a perfectly balanced bourbon at just the right proof, pulling absolutely no punches when it comes to unlocking exceptional flavor.”
The bottle has a different design and, much the way a boxer enters the ring with glitz and glam, it will stand out on the shelf or bar cart. The question remains: can a blended five and six year straight bourbon land a knockout punch, can it go the distance, or is it simply another bourbon making noise outside the ropes? With that, we turn to the glass.
Tasting Notes: Puncher’s Chance The Undisputed
Vital Stats: Sourced five and six-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon from IJW Whiskey Company. 55.7% or 108 proof SRP of $54.99.
Appearance: Copper hue
Nose: The nose on this is herbal, which I have not encountered so strongly before. I found mint, black currant tea, grass, honey dew melon, and clove. The sweetness of the underlying bourbon is there but tucked neatly away by the earthy herbal notes.
Palate: Starts off with a good pop! It’s dry and even across the palate. It evolves into more traditional bourbon flavors, white sugar, young oak, before splashing with black tea. The finish hits with a burst of honey with the slightest hint of mint. It holds for enough time to enjoy the finish, but doesn’t have the longest staying power. On at least one sip I found a hint of peanut butter right at the tail end of the sip.
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