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Waterford Stillhouse

Waterford, WI


Crusin' Rating: B+

Booze Rating: B+


Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Waterford Stillhouse

We are going a little off the beaten path today by doing our first official revisit of someplace we have already been! If you recall, the Prankster and I already had the chance to sit down with a real hometown hero, Brandon Begotka, for the soft opening of the Waterford Stillhouse. Both the Prankster and I, at the onset, were huge fans of the the Vodka, and I can tell you, nothing has changed as far as that product goes! It has earned a spot on our home bar (not an easy feat). However, I was not a major fan of the bourbon. Since it was the soft opening, we were sitting outside as the stillhouse was still under a lot of construction. Well, after our review came out Brandon invited us back to re-test additional batches of bourbon which we were more than happy to do. And this time, we had the added bonus of having Hannah along for the trip! So come with us as we revisit Waterford Distillery.

To read our initial review click here: Waterford Stillhouse

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Cocktail menu
Photo Credit: Waterford Stillhouse Facebook Page

Before I get too far into the review I’d like to be upfront and honest. We have some exciting news! We here at Crusinforbooze, the Prankster, and the Artist included, have partnered with Waterford Stillhouse to create a cocktail menu! That’s right, a cocktail menu designed by us, tested extensively by the rest of the team and other trusted friends, and then put into action by Brandon and Tammie Begotka at the stillhouse has officially been published! I would not have done a partnership with a product that I have not tasted extensively, nor with an establishment that I do not fully support. The fact that we collaborated with them does not at all compromise our judgement, but instead should stand as a testament of some booze that our blog really enjoys. So if you are in the area and want to see how our knowledge from all of these reviews is put into action, stop on by and try one of the winter cocktails on the menu at Waterford Stillhouse.

I know I mentioned it earlier, about not being a fan of the bourbon, and I want to tell you, I have not only had the chance to try different batches, but I’ve also had the chance to do a blind taste test with some of my favorites. So let me give you my honest thoughts. As Hannah, the Prankster, and I went back to Waterford Stillhousee and tried two separate batches, I have to say that parts of my original review was accurate and others have changed. But, and this is a big but, there were some definite distinctions in the batches which I did not experience in my original run.

Batch Number 7 had the aroma of toasted caramel and had tasting notes of caramel macchiato, charred autumn bark, cocoa and cacao nibs. This batch was pulled out of the barrel at 23 months and it was a definite improvement over the first visit.

Batch Number 2 had heavy vanilla notes on the nose with notes of crystallized toffee, candy corn, a touch of cinnamon and even a little honey. It was pretty mellow without a ton of bite. Now, I like bite to my bourbon but not everyone does, and especially when making cocktails, it’s not always great to have an overpowering bourbon.

The real winner, and I slightly hesitate to discuss it, because it was given to us as a special occasion thing, was the taste of the barrel strength. That’s right, Brandon pulled the stopper right out of barrel and into a taster glass for us and I have to tell you, it was in an absolutely different class that rivaled some of the best. It was full-bodied, chock-full of toasted wheat followed by vanilla and rich caramel sweetness and hints of fruit at the finished spices with a sprinkle of peppercorn with that exquisite richness. Right out of the barrel was the true winner. If that were to be bottled, I couldn’t see it lasting more than a week on the shelf, it was THAT good.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Cask Strength Burbon

That’s not to say the other batches were bad. No, the improvements over our first trip were apparent, enough so that I agreed to create a cocktail menu that had drinks featuring both the vodka and the bourbon as the stars.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Waterford Stillhouse
Full Lineup of Products (from left to right): Hand Sanitzer, Bourbon, Vodka

As I got to creating the cocktails, and bourbon cocktails are tricky, I found that the bourbon from Waterford Stillhouse played very nice with a lot of the ingredients. It was very malleable to different drink styles. Strong enough to be at the forefront on a riff of a Sazerac and cautious enough to slip into the background of a Christmas-inspired Manhattan. I was actually really impressed that it held it’s own as a bourbon you could still detect in a cocktail, but not so much that it overpowered it. It really struck a great balance as I was developing these drinks.

The Vodka, of course, has become one of our new favorites, lending itself easily to Martinis, Gimlets, Mules, and just about everything in between. Seriously, get rid of your big box Titos and get something made right here in Wisconsin that's just as good, if not better.

This isn’t just one big commercial. The bourbon is not perfect, and it is not my favorite, but I am definitely appreciative in the strides it has taken even in the brief time since we were last there. A lot has changed and I am sure it will only continue to get better.

Don’t just take it from me, you know a bourbon really has some merit if the Prankster can sip it without coughing and if Hannah can take a sip without pulling a face. When all of us are sipping off the barrel and saying that it’s good, you know you’ve got something special.

While this next bit, again, isn’t available for wide release just yet, we were able to taste a little of the R & D in development and there are exciting things on the way. Limoncello, Coffee Liqueur, and (spoilers) maybe even a Gin are all on track to be coming out before too long. We got the chance to taste a few different batches of Limoncello and give our feedback. There are definitely varied and awesome things on the way that will pave the road for even more exciting cocktail work, so keep an eye out!

The imbibments were not the only thing that got an update. We were able to sit inside and enjoy the space. Even though, it is small, the space is cozy. There are high-end finishes and this is a space that you can hang out with friends. Everyone was just so friendly and I want to re-iterate how down to earth Brandon and Tammie are. They were easy to work with, easy to talk to, and you feel that you are just visiting with neighbors the entire time you are there.

In short, everything I loved about the first trip has become better. The stuff I didn’t like has seen improvements and gotten better. The vibe is just as great, if not greater and I am stlll100% behind everything they are doing here.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Burbon Barrels

That is why we at Crusinforbooze decided to collaborate with this distillery, because they embody everything we love and are all about. So, if you want the Crusinforbooze experience and want to see what we are all about, make the trip to Waterford, WI. Try the cocktails and try the spirits that have a lot of local love behind them.

Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Blogger- Waterford Stillhouse
Cru and The Prankster

Until next time, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.

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