Review #12 - The William Dalton
The William Dalton is the second bottle from Spirits of French Lick that I’ve reviewed now, after The Mattie Gladden. Once again, fellow Bourbon Underground member, Cory Welch, and myself found ourselves in West Baden Springs to see what was happening with our friends at the distillery, and after a few hours we left with several neat bottles that they are producing, the William Dalton among them.
The William Dalton will not be commercially distributed until Q1 of 2021, and this bottle is from the first (and I believe still only) single barrel pick that has been bottled and sold. Somehow, I’ve found myself in an exclusive club with no idea how or why I’m here, but praying I don’t screw it up. Coming in at a 4 year, Bottled in Bond, the distillery’s plan is for this offering to replace The Wheater, the current blend of 7 year wheated merchant bourbon and 2 year wheated bourbon of their own distillate.
A snip about William Dalton from Spirits of French Lick: William Dalton was a man of few words but immense distilling talent. The longest serving Master Distiller in Indiana history, he kept the still fires burning at the historic Daisy Springs Distillery for 55 years. We pay tribute to his contributions with this traditional Wheated mashbill reflective of the art of true Hoosier distillers.
This time I opened the bottle and let it breathe for about an hour (Again, sorry Mattie). I drank out of a glencairn which rested about 10 minutes after pouring.
Scores are between 1 (drain), 2 (finish but wouldn’t order at a bar), 3 (solid pour), 4 (actively seek out) and 5 (whatever it takes).
Age: 4 years
Mashbill: 70% corn 20% wheat 10% Caramel Malt
Anise hits my nose first followed by some leather. Getting those two predominately but there’s also notes of some butter and a sweet vanilla nuttiness. 4
Medium in the mouth but not very oily. Normally that detracts for my personal taste, but the notes are fairly complex. First sip I get some vanilla which very quickly turns into baking spice, pepper, and a bit of heat in the mid mouth, but after another swirl and a second sip this really opens up with more cherry cola and brown sugar notes. For me, really just needed that baseline first coating and it turned into something really good. 4
Like the mouth, first sip there is some heat despite being a bottled in bond offering and senses of spice and tannins are present. But subsequent tries and all that starts to fade while sweeter notes linger for quite a while afterward. 3.5
This was an enjoyable pour that was complex enough to keep me going back to try and extract what was happening. And I went back a lot, even after writing that stuff down. Of course, it was 9 AM on a Saturday, but you can’t drink all day unless you start early.
I’m looking forward to the commercial release of William Dalton, and hope that this single barrel is reflective of the flavor profile that will be found in it. If so, I expect it to stack up well with its peers in the mid-tier $40-$70 range, and I’ll be trying to keep one on my bar going forward. Look for the first release of these in Indiana or through online retailers, and cross your fingers that finding it gets a little bit easier in the near future.