The other night I was on my way to my girlfriend’s apartment after work and decided to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. I stopped into fairly large (for Brooklyn) liquor store in her neighborhood and, of course, had to spend a bit of time in the bourbon/American whiskey section.
I didn’t intend to get any whiskies, but I picked up Corner Creek Reserve without much forethought. It was in a reasonable price range and is not something that you see every day, so I figured I’d give it a try. I left with it and an inexpensive bottle of wine. You can see where my alcoholic priorities lie.
– Made by Corner Creek
– 88 proof
The thing that most people will notice about Corner Creek Reserve is that it comes in a green-tinted wine bottle. That alone will make it stand out on most everyday liquor store bourbon shelves, but it also seems to be a part of a larger positioning play by the company, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The front label is dark blue ink on unbleached paper with a fine, red border line. It is dominated by a print of what we must assume is the eponymous creek, below which is the name and basic aging and production information. The font is a rustic serif set in a very matter-of-fact style, giving a sense of openness to the packaging that contrasts the cluttered nostalgia of many bourbon bottles.
The copy on the back tries to tie what Corner Creek is doing to the selection of fine wines: “In the tradition of the great wine importers, we … search for the the elusive few great barrels of prime aged American whiskey, and offer it to you in this limited bottling.” This is a clever tactic, likely meant to draw in curious (and apparently snooty) oenophiles who might be put off by the usual peculiarities of bourbon packaging.
This is where CC’s product positioning becomes clear, they have created a bottle that looks and appeals to wine drinkers and noticably eschews the common bourbon tropes in favor of common wine tropes. They’ve gone for classy rustic instead of the bourbon favorite trio of old men, old recipes, and old times.
Corner Creek Reserve does not have much of a nose to it. It feels tight and pretty locked-up in comparison with its usually more bombastic bretheren. You can search, but really all you’ll find is a bland sweetness with maybe a hint of ash.
Things open up a bit more on the palate. I got pine, some distant smoke, along with the usual corn/caramel. The finish is largely smooth but lingers a bit with a smooth creaminess.
One thing I can say about this over all is that it is very smooth. It is more like Basil Hayden’s in this way, but without as much complexity. Goes down easy despite the 88 proof.
I have to hand it to Corner Creek, they’ve created the perfect bourbon to capture wine drinkers. Everything from the presentation to the liquor itself seem tailor made to draw someone away from their cabernets and merlots.
It’s a good, smooth bourbon that won’t get you too excited, but which I’ll probably bring out for folks who like a milder drink or are nervous about leaving their oenophile ways.