Hailing from St Louis, Defiance Whiskey (not to be confused with Defiant Whisky) is a new high-rye bourbon that’s aged in Missouri oak barrels. Like many new whiskeys, Defiance is sourcing its juice from MGP Ingredients, the large scale distiller in Indiana. Founder Daniel Fort works with MGP to create the high-rye mashbill, and after distillation, the spirit is aged in locally-sourced white oak barrels. Those barrels are then individually sampled, and the best batches are blended together to bottle as the final 90-proof product.
The result is an approachable whiskey that has strong rye notes on the front end and a smooth, sweet finish. According to Fort, when he started developing the bourbon four years ago, he wanted to create a new, broader audience for bourbon. He wanted Defiance to appeal to the traditional, whiskey-drinking male demographic, but also millennials, women and those who don’t typically drink whiskey. Let’s see how they did.
Defiance Whiskey pours a clean amber in the glass, and on the nose it’s full of rye grains, corn and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. There’s some sweetness on the nose, but the strong caramel and vanilla notes prominent in many bourbons play a secondary role here. Take a sip, and you get more rye and spice, plus a bit of astringency, before sweetness begins to show itself with caramel, honey and candied fruit. It finishes with a lingering sweetness fading into a dry close.
Defiance Whiskey accomplishes what it set out to do. It’s spicy up front, sweet toward the end, and it’s an easy drinking experience from start to finish. We’d have enjoyed a rounder mouth feel and a bit less astringency mid-palate, but this is a solid effort all around, especially from first-time whiskey makers.
– 45% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★