Hotaling & Co., the San Francisco-based importer and distiller extradoniare, has a reputation for producing interesting whiskeys (see J.H. Cutter Whisky). The Horizon Bourbon is the first offering in their new series dubbed Hirsch Selected Whiskeys, named for the investment banker-turned-whiskey-maker A.H. Hirsch, who created the now-mythic A.H. Hirsch Reserve 16 Years Old.
The Horizon’s juice is sourced from MGP Ingredients in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, across two mashbills that are helpfully printed on the back of the whiskey’s attractive, oversized flask-like bottle. Ninety-four percent of the spirit is built from a bourbon composed of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley, aged for five years and four months; and the remaining 6% of the liquid is derived from a 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malted barley bourbon that was aged for six years and two months.
The Horizon Bourbon has a malty nose with oak, powdered cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla crème brûlée. It’s gentle and medium in body, easily gliding over the tongue with initial flavors of vanilla and hot chocolate mix. Something interesting happens as it moves to the center, and big stone fruit flavors emerge, focused on juicy plums and pears. The stone fruit flavor continues to the back, where it grows slightly tart with apricot and peach, and is joined by mildly spicy cinnamon and oak. Its finish is sweet with fruit notes and a final shot of vanilla crème brûlée, whose richness contrasts nicely with the darker, sharper fruit flavors. A lingering yet never overpowering note of spice brings the experience to a satisfying conclusion.
Sure, there’s vanilla, oak, and spice, but these bourbon hallmarks aren’t the sum of the Horizon experience; they’re components in a fascinating journey that’s equally marked by tart but juicy stone fruits, making this one of the more unusual and interesting bourbons I’ve had in some time. Also commendable is its sub $40 price, which places it on the spectrum of good, affordable sipping bourbons.
Additional Hirsch expressions are expected to be launched in 2021. If this first attempt is any example of what the future has in store, I’m looking forward to seeing what else Hotaling & Co. has up its sleeve.
— 46% ABV