Trail’s End, from Hood River Distillers, Inc. in Hood River, Oregon, is a premium Straight Kentucky Bourbon, 8 years of age, that has been finished in Oregon oak. The result is a surprising and welcome addition to bourbons you want to try.
A Taste of Oregon Oak
We tasted ours alongside a favorite bourbon for the sake of comparison. Aged bourbon is typically silky in texture and leans toward smoky or sweet, depending on ingredients and method. I put Trail’s End in the smoky column, gratefully, with all the soft floral notes you would expect from Kentucky straight whiskey. However, it is in the finish that the genius of the Oregon oak is revealed.
The comparison bottle finished with the unmistakable tang of eastern forest wood. A really good barbecue sauce will have this element in its finish as well. Trail’s End whiskey has a finish that, almost miraculously, reveals the terroir of Oregon. Not unlike the nose and finish of fine Oregon Pinot Noir, there is something truly ‘of the land’ that comes through. Is there an element of suggestion at work here, through the description on the bottle? Perhaps. There is really no way to know. But as a native Oregonian who grew up among the oaks of Jackson County, I do know the taste of our land. Trail’s End whiskey captures that characteristic flavor in an unexpected and truly enjoyable fashion.
This marriage of top-quality Kentucky whiskey and staves of Oregon oak is one result of a collaboration between HRD and Clear Creek Distillery, the latter having been acquired by the former in 2014. Clear Creek pioneered the use of Oregon oak in finishing spirits, and the genius of the idea is once again confirmed. I highly recommend Trail’s End whiskey to the whiskey sipper. It’s available where fine spirits are sold. – Jeff Thomas, RFT Contributor & Spirits Expert