Distilling is as much an art as it is a science. A balance of art and science brings more creativity, imagination, and experimentation. It’s also a growing part of the whiskey market. We see it in whiskeys such as Dewar’s cask series. We also see it it in Oak & Eden Whiskey.
Oak & Eden Whiskey has an ‘infused’ and a ‘finished’ selection of their whiskey in which they finish their whiskey in the bottle. We’ll touch on more of that soon as we review Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire Whiskey.
Oak & Eden History
Oak & Eden was launched in 2017 by two brothers, Joe and James Gildenzopf, as well as Brad Neathery. By 2018, they had released their first two whiskeys, a bourbon and rye that are in bottle finished. According to an interview done with Voyage Dallas, Joe says their inspiration came from an appreciation of a good whiskey. They decided, then, to try their hand at creating their own.
As to the credit for the success of Oak & Eden, Joe gives it to God. In fact, that’s the inspiration of their name, Oak & Eden. The oak being what gives whiskey it’s flavor, and Eden, well that’s homage to “the Creator who beathed His unique spirit into us”, says Joe Gildenzopf.
Oak & Eden operates under the LLC of Sanctified Spirits, located in the DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) area of Texas.
Oak & Eden Overview – Wheat & Spire
- Spirit: Bourbon Whiskey
- Produced By: Sanctified Spirits, LLC
- Distilled By: MGP
- Aged: NAS. Minimum 4 years. Finished in-bottle 6+ weeks with a French oak spire
- ABV: 45%, 90 Proof
- Mashbill: 51% corn, 45% wheat, 4% malted barley
While the name of this whiskey is Wheat & Spire, do not let that fool you. This is a bourbon, it’s simply a wheated bourbon. As you can see above, the mash bill contains at least 51% corn, qualifying it to be a bourbon, but it also contains a very large amount of wheat. A wheated bourbon is much like a high-rye bourbon, only that it uses wheat instead of rye, surprise.
Another thing to note is that Oak & Eden Whiskey is distilled by MGP. This isn’t some huge surprise as MGP is one of the largest distiller and provider of sourced spirits. Because so many brands source whiskey from MGP, it’s important to add your own finishing touch. This is where the in-bottle finishing comes to play.
What Does Finishing a Whiskey Mean? What is In-Bottle Finishing?
There are specific requirements that must be met when producing bourbon. One is that it must be aged in new-charred American oak barrels. While there is no age requirement, most bourbon is aged a minimum 2 years with many going to a minimum of 4.
Wood, the aging process, is what gives whiskey it’s color and most of its aroma and flavor. So, in order to create a unique profile, brands “finish” their whiskey in a second barrel. This is referred to as barrel finishing or double barrel whiskey. Whiskey will often be finished in ex-wine barrels, such as sherry or port. Others include French oak, or ex-rum casks, ex-tequila casks, and so on. The process of barrel finishing is meant to add different flavors and aromas, not necessarily overtake the original.
Oak & Eden Whiskey tried something different. Instead of putting their whiskey in a second barrel, they thought of an idea to put the second barrel into their whiskey. After bottling their whiskey, they place a 5-inch spire – a spiral piece of wood – into their bottle. In essence, they are finishing their whiskey in the bottle instead of in another barrel.
With our bottle of Wheat & Spire, the wheated bourbon is finished with a fired French oak spire. The spire is toasted over fire, giving it a medium toast, and dropped in the bottle for 6+ weeks before hitting the shelves.
Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire Fired French Oak Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, let’s get into the important part of this review. Is Oak & Eden Whiskey good? What does it taste like? It’s time to find out if this artistic, unique style can play a similar role as barrel-finishing. Let’s pour ourselves a glass.
Nose: pear, oak, light cherry, vanilla
Palate: cherry, oak, vanilla. Botanicals and a stronger char come out with ice. oily, buttery mouthfeel.
Finish: medium in length. fruit and oak. more charred oak with ice. light pepper with finish.
Is Oak & Eden Whiskey Good? – Wheat & Spire
Yes. and Yes. I say yes twice because this was a story of two sips for me. One with ice and one without it. Neat, Oak & Eden had more fruit flavors than anticipated. There was a mixture of light fruits and a touch of cherry. The oaky notes were typical or average of a bourbon, but it was smooth, sweet, and had a pleasant mouthfeel.
Ice or a splash of water has been known to sometimes change the profile of a whiskey instead of just diluting it. I touch of ice brought out much stronger charred oak notes and the fruit flavors transitioned to botanicals. There isn’t a hugely unique finish, neat it’s fruit and oak, with ice it’s charred oak and some pepper.
I’m really not sure whether or not I prefer Oak & Eden on ice or neat because I found both to be very good. It may lose some points on the finish for a more sophisticated whiskey drinker, but it’s tasteful, easy to drink, and has a nice buttery mouthfeel.
Oak & Eden Whiskey Price
Obviously, taste isn’t the only criteria we check when purchasing a bottle of whiskey. Price is also a huge consideration. So, how much does Oak & Eden cost? We take a look at Total Wine stores across the US to determine an average price.
Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire 750ml Price: $38-43
Oak & Eden has an array of price ranges for all of their different whiskeys, but things are pretty consistent when it comes to the Fired French Oak Wheat & Spire. A majority of stores had it listed for $39.99, which is precisely what we bought our bottle for.
Oak & Eden Value
Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire whiskey is a very good bourbon that is priced just right. Much cheaper and it’d be a steal, much more expensive and I’d look elsewhere. Part of the value in Oak & Eden whiskey is the curiosity and enjoyment from trying innovative, or at least different, whiskey. It’s fun trying something that is finished in-bottle. It’s also good, which means I want to try their other whiskeys in the finished series. Overall, I’d recommend giving this whiskey a shot.
Oak & Eden Whiskey: Finished Series, Infused Series, Anthro Series
While this review is of Wheat & Spire, we figured we’d briefly touch upon the other whiskeys offered.
- Finished Series
- Wheat & Spire
- Bourbon & Spire – High rye bourbon mashbill that is finished with a toasted American Oak spire
- 4 Grain & Spire – A bourbon mash bill using all four major grains (corn, rye, wheat, barley) finished with a toasted American oak spire
- Rye & Spire – A rye whiskey finished with a charred American Oak spire
- Infused Series – these whiskeys are finished with an infused spire instead of a toasted or charred one
- Wheat & Honey – Wheated bourbon finished with an American Oak spire that has been soaked in honey
- Rye & Rumba – Rye whiskey finished with a Caribbean rum infused American Oak spire
- Bourbon & Brew – Bourbon finished with a coffee infused French Oak spire
- Bourbon & Vine – Bourbon finished with a Cabernet infused French Oak spire
- Anthro Series – These whiskeys are made in collaboration with notable musicians, actors, and such.
- Forrie J Smith – Barrel proof bourbon with coffee infused American oak spire
- Abraham Alexander – Bourbon finished with a vanilla infused American oak spire
- John Paul White – 4 Grain Bourbon with a charred American oak spire
- Jamestown Revival – Barrel proof rye finished with a toasted French Oak spire
- Penny & Sparrow – Barrel proof bourbon finished with toasted American Oak spire
- Filmore – 4 grain bourbon finished with a coffee and honey infused American Oak spire
Oak & Eden Whiskey Summary
I was a little skeptical about Oak & Eden Whiskey at first. I mean, the whole “in-bottle” finishing just seemed to be a cheap way they could market themselves as finished whiskey. Barrel finishing works because the wood interacts with the whiskey and the environment. The spire doesn’t interact with oxygen, so it only interacts with the whiskey for around 6 weeks until it no longer affects the liquid.
Since it doesn’t involve purchasing various barrels, aging for 6 or so months, I didn’t think it’d be too effective. Well, I was wrong. The whiskey is good, and you can definitely taste the toast from the French oak spire – especially on ice.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Oak & Eden Wheat & Spire, and I’ll certainly be trying some of their other selections in the finished or infused series as well. If you haven’t had Oak & Eden, I’d recommend buying a bottle next time you come across it. If you have had it, let me know which I should try next in the comments!