It’s hot. 85 degrees. It rained last night and the grass is now dry enough for a much needed mow. I’m off from work, looking after my wife who has broken her leg mountain biking and just had outpatient surgery. She’s doing well and is taking a nap and I’ve got to take care of the yard. Fast-forward an hour and it’s finally over. I’m showered and ready to take a break and want something to sip on. But what do you drink on such a hot summer day? For me, it’s usually a younger rye that’s bright and crisp, but today I’m feeling bourbon. Longbranch fits the bill. It’s 86 proof, mild, sweet and has just a hint of that mesquite smoke.
Longbranch is a recent addition to the Wild Turkey lineup of products. It’s a collaboration between Eddie Russell and Matthew McConaughey of all people. Supposedly McConaughey had a bit of input on the selection process or something. Who knows, and for that matter, who really cares? The real question is: Is it any good?
Before we answer that, let’s look at what it actually is. It’s the same mash bill as all other Wild Turkey bourbons: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley. It’s age stated at 8 years (on the pamphlet, not on the bottle) and is considered a small batch bourbon. The gimmick is that it’s “refined” with oak and Texas Mesquite charcoals giving it a hint of smoke. I was skeptical at first and assumed this was just some sort of media stunt to bring in McConaughey fans or to try and reach a new demographic and maybe it was, but it’s also a pretty decent bourbon.
I was able to pick this up at Total Wine when it launched for $29.99 and was fairly new to bourbon at the time. It quickly became a daily drinker for me and was the bottle I reached for the most in my early days of whiskey. Today, when looking in my stash for an easy drinker, I came across this bottle and decided to finish the last (healthy) pour. Even after all the other bourbons I’ve been able to try over the last couple years, this one still is appealing for a couple reasons. The nose on it is sweet with oak and baking spices. The palate continues with the sweetness, honey, vanilla and orange with notes of oak coat the palate with just a tiny tingle of alcohol on the tip of the tongue. The finish is dry and the smoke from the mesquite finally comes through ever so slightly.
So what makes this appealing besides the taste? Price point is always of consideration and while I think the price has settled at $39.99, it’s still a good price for decent bourbon. The other thing that stands out to me is that this is a great introductory bourbon. It’s sweet, it’s only 86 proof, it has a great flavor profile and it’s inexpensive. All of these add up to a bourbon that’s great to serve to newcomers or to gift to someone new to bourbon.
Is Longbranch Wild Turkey’s best offering? Of course not, but it is a solid entry into an already great product line. I’d recommend this to someone new to whiskey, either as a pickup for yourself or as a gift, or if you’ve already sampled Wild Turkey’s other offerings, give this bottle a try. It’s not going to knock your socks off, but it’s a decent pour that is different from their other bourbons….and it has a cool bottle and we all love cool bottles.