So not too long ago my sweet gal was exploring out west with her family out in the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. It’s a beautiful area, and a cool trip. She sent me a couple nice gifts from her voyage, a good pint glass and a bottle of the subject of this article. The best kind of gifts. Of course the bottle of Yellowstone was meant partly as a novelty, but who am I to pass up on reviewing a whiskey I’ve never seen before? So what is Yellowstone anyways, a cheap attempt at grabbing some hooch drinking tourist’s bucks? The historian’s curiosity in me decided I needed to dig into this a bit more, because tourist kitsch whiskey doesn’t seem like a common practice. Cursory examination of the bottle tells me there is a “tradition of excellence” to the booze in my plastic bottle, that it’s bottled in St. Louis, and that it’s “fully aged” for 36 months. That’s the federal minimum for it to be called bourbon. Now it’s time for my training as a historian. Google that shit. Wikipedia has a nice brief history, but there’s a nice 2 part blog post by this guy http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com –it’s in his 2009 archives. Anyways, the gist here is that the Yellowstone name was first applied to a bourbon in 1872, and stuck around for a long time, making it through Prohibition as medicinal whiskey and becoming very popular in the ‘60s. They went under in the ‘80s and the name has been bought and sold since then—now a company called Luxco sells it. “Luxco” implies a luxury company. All appearances beg to differ, a plastic 375ml bottle with a poorly applied label. But hey, it’s 86 proof, it’ll get ya drunk.
Interestingly enough, this Yellowstone smells tasty, unlike the national park which basically is one big sulfurous earth fart. It smells like toffee and caramel goodness. I’m shocked and optimistic; maybe this isn’t hobo hooch after all! Nope, wait, it is. The taste is not exactly what I hoped for. In fact, it’s a strange and sickly kind of sweet. There is something that could be a nice spice note, but the dominating flavor is something that I would call marzipan, but I’ve never tasted marzipan so I can only say it’s not toffee or caramel. The fact that it only spent 3 years in the barrel doesn’t really help it, some nice vanilla and char could make this translate a bit better. Unfortunately, this modern iteration of the Yellowstone name doesn’t live up to what was said to be a revered whiskey, but still, there’s a cool history behind this brand. Who knows, maybe yet another change of ownership could lead to a revival of the “Tradition of Excellence” of this brand. In the meantime, I’m going to drink up, because it’s still whiskey, and a beautiful woman sent it to me nonetheless!