On first hearing the Trail’s End name, I was reminded of the time I spent selling popcorn as a Boy Scout to finance a childhood of Rocky Mountain exploration. Turns out it is also the name or a bourbon produced by Hood River Distillers.
Despite Hood River Distillers being founded in 1934 and holding Oregon’s Distilled Spirits Permit #1, until recently HRD didn’t distill anything, instead sourcing all product from outside suppliers. In 2014, HRD entered the distilling world by acquiring the owners of the second-ever Oregon DSP: Portland’s Clear Creek.
Trail’s End is source bourbon from Kentucky, it’s aged there for eight years before the barrels travel to Oregon. Once in Oregon, the barrels are steeped with Oregon oak for a few months before the bourbon is brought to proof and bottled.
The Oregon oak steeping process is a new wood infusion, designed to give the whiskey a stronger wood profile and it shows in the nose. The whiskey starts with a woody, vanilla, almond and lightly corny nose. A very classic bourbon start, but it hits a lot hotter on the tongue than a classic bourbon, much more so than its 45% abv prepared me for. After a few sips I get notes of fresh mint and some hazelnut, nutmeg and a good amount of spice. The finish is warm with just a hint of sweetness and a good amount of coffee character.
Overall, this is a wonderfully rich, spicy bourbon with a fruity and distinctly mocha-like finish that really works. At $50 for 750ml it’s worth picking up.