Milam & Greene Whiskey has unveiled the first release in its Wildlife Collection, Scorpion Single Barrel Bourbon. The new limited-edition series of cask strength, single barrel whiskies attempts to answer the question, “How does weather affect aging whiskey?” – namely the exceptionally high heat, ice storms, wild temperature swings, drought, and low humidity levels that hit Texas Hill Country.
The whiskeys in the Wildlife Collection herald from either Kentucky or Tennessee with a mash bill of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley before making their way down to the Lone Star State. They were aged in their respective home states for just over four years in new American oak barrels with a #4 “alligator” char level. Upon arrival at The Milam & Greene Distillery in Blanco, Texas, the barrels were placed in the rickhouse for additional aging under the stewardship of Milam & Greene master blender Heather Greene, who wanted to see how Texas weather would affect their continued aging. It just so happens that last year, the distillery experienced some of the most intense weather conditions on record.
“We are continuously experimenting to determine how Texas weather affects aging whiskey – whether it was distilled in Texas or elsewhere – and the results are quite extraordinary so far,” says Greene. “We’ve noticed that the wild swings in high and low temperatures matched with low humidity here are a real ingredient in our whiskies. The Wildlife Collection, therefore, will deliver a traditional base flavor of a Kentucky or Tennessee whiskey but is tweaked and refined using Texas’s natural elements like wind, sun, and humidity to affect the aging in a barrel and to make something truly special.”
The first release of the Milam & Greene Wildlife Collection, the Scorpion Single Barrel Boubron, is bottled at 123.3 proof, making this bourbon one of the strongest and richest barrels ever released by Milam & Greene. The Scorpion spent 50 months in Tennessee, followed by eight months on the northside of the Milam & Greene rickhouse in Texas where it sat quietly, without rotation or climate control. Like its namesake, this whiskey thrived in the blazing Texas heat, where there were over 50 consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures and tremendous drought combined with low barometric pressure last summer. This left a darker, richer, more robust, and perhaps even more mysterious spirit than barrels from the same lot that stayed in Tennessee. Some might even call it an “Extreme Weather Whiskey.”
The result is an intense, brooding bourbon with a deep copper color. It has rich scents of maple glazed donuts, a viscous texture with bold herbs, black pepper, candied orange peel, and tobacco flavors with a dry finish punctuated by fresh-cut lumber notes.
“Scorpion is truly a ‘Texas finished, Tennessee Whiskey’ that belies its age,” added Greene. “We will release more Single Barrel Wildlife Collection whiskies this year, and I expect each one to be quite different even though their lineages are all similar. I find the minutia of what happens in a cask to be some of the most fascinating and misunderstood aspects of what makes a whiskey beautiful.”
The Wildlife Collection Scorpion Single Barrel will be available for $99.99 only on the Milam & Greene website and in the distillery tasting room starting at 3 pm (CST) on Wednesday, February 22. This Scorpion Single Barrel had a yield of just 204 bottles, sacrificing a great deal of the original distillate back to the angel’s share due to the environmental conditions in Texas Hill Country last year. As a very limited release, once this is gone, it’s gone. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each bottle of the Milam & Greene Wildlife Collection will go to benefit Texas Parks & Wildlife.
If you’re a fan of Texas bourbon, the Garrison Brothers just released the 2023 edition of its Guadalupe whiskey.