Indiana mega-distillery MGP Ingredients, responsible for the juice used by such brands as Bulleit, High West, and many more, has only recently begun to release whiskeys under its own label. The latest entry is Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey, launched this past February.
The name itself derives from old railroad slang. The “Eight” refers to the highest setting on a train’s throttle, and the “Sand” references the literal sand applied to train wheels to prevent slippage. Also, there’s a big ol’ choo-choo train prominently displayed on the label.
The spirit itself is a marriage of different bourbons and other American whiskeys produced at MGP’s Lawrenceburg distillery, all of which are at least four years old. It pours a dark copper in the glass, and has brown sugar, vanilla, oak, and leather on the nose.
Eight & Sand is viscous and remarkably soft on the palate, rolling over the tongue like a light massage. Its first flavors are of vanilla with a hint of caramel. It darkens toward the center as it picks up nutty and fruity notes, principally pecan and cherry. Vanilla emerges once more at the back, where it becomes the prominent note alongside milk chocolate and the first stirrings of oaky spice. The finish is tempered and moderate, with a light coating of spice and big notes of vanilla bean and oak.
Eight & Sand is an interesting case. It lacks the sweeter characteristics associated with bourbon, but comes chock-full of the vanilla and oaky notes you’d expect. Its chewy, almost fatty texture makes it a delight sipped neat, and gives it the body needed to shine through in an Old-Fashioned (it also helps that it’s gently priced enough for guilt-free cocktail use).
Currently, Eight & Sand is distributed in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Wisconsin. So, if you live any of those places, you’re in luck.
— 44% ABV