Two Sommeliers Bring a Bourbon to Life

Two Sommeliers Bring a Bourbon to Life
Courtesy of Pinhook

The Pinhook Collaboration Series Edition No. 1 by Sean Josephs and André Hueston Mack is reviewed.

A friendship and a healthy dose of professional respect and admiration underpin the first collaboration release from Pinhook, which is based on barrel selection and blending. Co-founded by Sean Josephs, Pinhook is a whiskey brand. He is a master blender as well as co-founder. In addition to opening Char No. 4, Maysville, and Kenton’s in New Orleans, Josephs has a long history in the restaurant industry.

The first job he had was at Per Se in New York, where he met André Hueston Mack, who later founded Maison Noir Wines and earned the Chaine des Rôtisseurs award for Best Young Sommelier in America. Mack and he became fast friends when Mack went on to found Maison Noir Wines.

A year later, in 2021, the two have chosen barrels from their sommelier backgrounds for this whiskey release based on their expertise as sommeliers. Pinhook is not a distillery; instead, it sources its bourbon and rye from various distilleries across the country, releasing a new vintage every year.

The previous expressions had been made from whiskeys sourced from MGP, the Indiana distillery that has produced a number of different brands throughout the country. It is more recent, however, that Pinhook has contracted with Castle & Key, a distillery that revitalized the Old Taylor Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, to contract distill their whiskey under contract. A young rye whiskey made by Castle & Key for Pinhook was released in 2020, with a mash bill comprised of 60 % rye, 20 % corn, and 20 % malt.

Taking advantage of their status as members of the Edrington family, which owns The Macallan and Highland Park, Pinhook purchased ten barrels from Wyoming Whiskey, a distillery owned by the Edrington family until recently. In this whiskey, 68 percent of corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent barley are used, divided into two five-barrel batches, aged for ten years, and bottled at an incredible 115.3 proof. There are 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent barley in it. The high-proof wine was bottled after maturing for ten years.

In other words, the palate of this drink is a bit hot, so a drop or two of water would be helpful, but not necessary at all. As soon as you take your first sip, you are greeted with a scent of syrupy fruit and spice that almost fools you into thinking that this is a whiskey finished in a sherry cask. Then you will experience ripe peaches, plums, cinnamon, and burnt vanillas, all of which are followed closely by those notes.

There is also some savory barbecue sauce notes that help to round out everything, which may sound odd at first, but they are in fact a nice, subtle contrast to the sweetness of the whiskey, which is both sweet and savoury at the same time.


In general, Pinhook’s first Collaboration Series bourbon is a solid, bold, and new style of bourbon that is completely different from the previous releases. The fact that it is so similar to what is already available is something that is a welcome feature, since a special edition whiskey shouldn't essentially look too much like anything else already available. There is no doubt that this whiskey is a great whiskey to try if you are already a Pinhook fan, or if you have tried younger, lower-proof Wyoming Whiskey before and enjoyed it, or if you are just looking to add something new to your collection of bourbon.

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