Pursuit United’s journey to market wasn’t exactly a traditional one. From casual bourbon fans to successful podcasters to independent bottlers and finally to whiskey blenders, Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil built themselves a modern whiskey business via a combination of nationwide industry relationships and savvy business acumen. Pursuit Spirits—which sells single barrels of whiskey sourced from a variety of US distilleries—was originally a companion piece to their hugely successful Bourbon Pursuit podcast (listen to one of my favorite episodes here). The Pursuit United brand was launched a few years ago and was Pursuit Spirits’ first foray into blending for a national audience. With a flagship blended bourbon and rye under their belt, the brand has started expanding into other blended products.
“The Oak Collection,” released in late 2022, consists of two products: a blend of straight bourbons and a blend of straight rye whiskies. Each expression has an interesting additional finishing component. The Oak Collection Bourbon is a blend of straight bourbons from TN (not that one), NY, and IN that were later finished in a combination of toasted American oak and French oak. The Oak Collection Rye is a blend of straight rye whiskies from both KY and MD, finished in French ex-Sherry oak.
Before I opened either bottle to sample, I had a sneaking suspicion that these were going to have some interesting flavors thanks to the source whiskies and the finishing choices that went into each product.
Did the finishing experiment pay off? Let’s explore further.
Pursuit United The Oak Collection Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskies
|Nose||An oddly spicy nose. Dried cranberries, ginger, graham crackers, toffee, vanilla, hint of Chinese five spice. With water, cedar, pancake batter, and stonefruit.|
|Taste||Dry oak, vanilla, gum drops, butterscotch pudding, cherry syrup, hint of maple, hint of anise. Water adds red licorice, more fruity candy, and fennel.|
|Finish||Medium length. herbal and earthy, more mint, dried cherries, toasted oak. With water, orange citrus, menthol, cherry cough drops, and some slightly tannic oak. Those minty and earthy notes are the last to fade.|
|Overall Thoughts||You can tell that Pursuit United doesn’t blend “usual suspect” whiskies into their products. I experienced a wide array of interesting aromas and tasting notes. There was an unusual spice profile to this whiskey along with some extra oak and candy sweetness. I found the progression of this to be a bit disjointed from nose to palate to finish but I appreciate that there wasn’t the same old set of tasting notes in this pour.|
Pursuit United The Oak Collection Blended Straight Rye Whiskies
|Nose||Cherry pie filling, orange marmalade, red grapes, ginger, wood char. With water, a bit of tartness, some tannic oak, and some clove.|
|Taste||Rye spice, cinnamon sugar, dried cherry, vanilla, hint of grape juice, nutmeg, butter cookies, dried herbs, almond. Water brings out more pronounced vanilla, some floral notes, and orchard fruits.|
|Finish||Medium+ length. Here’s where the sherry oak really comes through. Red berries, tannic oak, vanilla, more cinnamon, hints of chocolate, slightly herbal throughout. Spicier with water, some mulling spices and apple cinnamon.|
|Overall Thoughts||I think rye and ex-sherry is a bit of a gamble. Sherry casks sometime have a way of taking whiskey down a specific sweetness path that doesn’t always work with rye whiskey but it seems to pay off nicely here. This whiskey had a very grape-y vibe to it and I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of the sherry oak or in spite of it. I think the rye profile underneath the sweetness was a nice balance of red berries, vanilla, and just enough herbal undertones. There’s a bit of a youthful vibrance to this expression but it’s quite nice and has me looking forward to the next release.|