Rowan's Creek Kentucky bourbon whiskey - 50.05%

In November last year, my wife was accepted into the New York marathon and it was immediately decided that I, along with our parents, should be with her in the Big Apple as her official support team.

Whether we would have been so keen to sign up to this if the race had been somewhere a little less glamorous is debatable, mind you.

We chose to spend a week in the city following the marathon - which my wife completed successfully - and make it a proper holiday, complete with obligatory visit to Greenwich Village to gorge on produce from Murray’s Cheese (their baseball-sized arancini are incredible) and take part in several of the amazing Foods Of NY Tours.

While wandering down Bleecker Street, we spotted Terra Blues - a music club specialising in superb live sounds. My step-dad made a reservation and that night, we piled in to the dimly-lit venue.

Where am I going with this? Well, after being guided to our seats, I was handed a menu - not just any old menu - but a multi-page tome featuring hundreds of bourbons, ryes and other fine spirits. I almost fell off my chair!

When presented with such a vast selection of drinks, it’s hard to know where to start. But I spotted Noah’s Mill (which I’d wanted to try for some time) and asked for a pour. Unfortunately, they were out, but it was suggested that I try Rowan’s Creek instead - a younger sibling to Noah’s Mill.

The menu!

For the next six hours, we were treated to some fine live music – and I kept ordering Rowan’s Creek. All. Night. I wasn’t aware that it’s bottled at 50.05% - and it was going down a treat.

When the club closed at 2am, we casually swayed back down Bleecker Street and straight into Joe’s Pizza, for massive wedges of cheesy goodness before a cab ride back to Brooklyn. It was an amazing night.

Recently, I tracked down a bottle of Rowan’s Creek, and while I can’t really compare it to that unforgettable night in New York, I thought I should get some notes down. My bottle is batch 16-26, which I’ve heard some people say is nowhere near the best on offer. But in Scotland when it comes to bourbon, you take what you get.

Here we go.

The first thing I get with this bottle on the nose is an overwhelming smack of crunchy nut cornflakes which I really like. Beyond that, there’s a heavy shake of ground cinnamon, brown sugar and a slight orangey citrus note. Vanilla sponge cake springs to mind here, too, along with musty old wood and brown bread. Bear with me, it’s been a while since I last wrote about spirits!

The Rowan’s Creek has a touch of sweet and savoury about it when you taste it. There’s a sugary sweetness which is followed by a sour woody taste. Vanilla and orange notes then come through, along with more cinnamon and additional clove.

The finish brings back the crunchy nut cornflake kick and loads of orange. It tails away with some sourness and it’s quite drying – like licking a plank of raw wood (not that I’ve done that, but you get my point). There’s some strong black coffee going on here too and the finish does last a long time.

Would I buy Rowan’s Creek again? You know, I’m not sure I would. I would certainly like to try different batches as my bottle doesn’t taste like it did in New York. But then, often where you drink whisk(e)y has a profound impact on what you actually taste and smell. And at £58 a bottle, there are definitely other bourbons that I’d like to get stuck into for around the same price.

Live music in full swing at Terra Blues


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