Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ Review [In Depth]

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon HEADER

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ Details

Distillery: Ammunition (contract distilled / sourced from a Kentucky distillery)

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 55%

Composition: 70% corn, 20% rye, 10% barley

Aged: At least 4 years

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $80

From the company website:

This bourbon truly finishes with complex chocolate cherries, subtle tannins and a noteworthy, sweet nose. Expect notes of sweet corn throughout. Pour a glass neat or on the rocks, pair it with a cigar, and let the good times roll.

This is a 4-year-old Bourbon, finished for 6 months in French Bordeaux wine barrels which previously held Ammunition Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ overview

It’s becoming more difficult for brands to successfully differentiate themselves from the vast sea of other spirits brands. With a combination of huge investment into new distilleries and distilleries making it easier than ever to source so that seemingly anyone can do it, there’s a lot of competition out there. Really, go to a big liquor store and see how many different bourbons there are. It’s not that there’s a bourbon shortage, there’s just a general shortage of older bourbon + the “name brand” stuff.
Ammunition is trying to stand out by infusing their wine expertise into every bottle of whiskey they touch, meaning that all of their whiskeys include some type of finish in casks that used to age their wine.
Daylight Wine and Spirits, owner of the Ammunition brand, started out with wine in 2011 by buying grapes and producing their own wine. A few years after that, they expanded into whiskey, meaning sourcing, finishing, and blending. I don’t think they have any plans to distill, and I don’t think that they own a vineyard. Either way, both of those things are crazy expensive, so it makes financial sense why they would not.
Back to the bourbon in this review. While Ammunition’s earlier bourbon releases were sourced from MGP / Ross & Squibb, Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon is sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. My best guess is Bardstown Bourbon Company, as they’ve become the main Kentucky distillery for contract distilling and sourcing for many brands.
But with a little digging, I found that Hidden Barn, the distillery out of Sparta, Kentucky where Jackie Zykan (formerly of Old Forester) now works, has a bourbon with the 70% corn, 20% rye, 10% rye mashbill. It’s entirely possible that Ammunition sourced bourbon from there. It’s an intriguing possibility, although I care more about how it drinks than anything else.
The Kentucky-made bourbon is then finished for 6 months in French oak casks that previously aged their Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Before that, those casks aged Bordeaux wine. California Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be big, bold, sweet, and oaky, so you can expect some of that to carry over into the bourbon.
Let’s find out if the melding of Kentucky Bourbon and California wine leads to a harmonious relationship in this Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon review.
Thank you to Ammunition for providing this bottle. All opinions are my own.
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon front

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ smell

I smell orange peel, deep baked red apple, honey, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, licorice, oak varnish, cherry, pineapple, and mint with some manageable kick. For me at least, the wine finish comes off more as red apple than red grape or other red fruit you might associate with wine. Regardless, it feels like a dark, fruity, and oaky bourbon that’s well balanced. The finish already feels well integrated with the bourbon.
There’s really nice richness and fullness, which I’m sure the ABV and finish are a big part of. I can’t quite explain it yet, but it feels unique. At the same time, the nuance, complexity, and mature low-end fullness aren’t there yet. It could be from the 4 year old bourbon.
After swirling and rest, I smell dark caramelized honey, baked red apple, dried cherry, vanilla, effervescent oak, a lot of cinnamon, then some pineapple, mint, dark chocolate, apricot, oak varnish, and nuttiness. Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon smells great, I will definitely go on the record about that.
It has that shimmery oak feeling that I’ve also gotten from Maker’s 46, which also uses french oak in the finish. Ammunition Cask Strength does it through the wine cask made from french oak, while Maker’s does it through French oak staves.
As nice as the richness really is, it’s not as defined and layered as I’d like. The range is there and the complexity is on its way, but it can be a little bit muddled. At some point, the 4 year old bourbon can only take you so far, and it is what it is.
Nonetheless, I give credit where it’s due, Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon overall smells great. I like the balance between honey, fruit, oak, and spice that shows the wine and bourbon are married and in harmony.
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon fb

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with dark honey, dried cherry, baked red apple, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, bubblegum, dried apricot, toasted grain (not really in an overly youthful or immature way, more like some type of roasty character), and a little bit of dry grass and nuttiness. Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon starts off sweet and fruity and then shifts to roasty, spicy, and slightly toasted grain flavors.
It starts off really good with that honey and red fruitiness, but I think the middle to back comes in a little too roasty and oaky for me. These California Cabernet Sauvignons can be really bold and rich, but it doesn’t feel like it’s fully fending off the roastiness.
On that note, the flavors are still good so far, but they don’t feel so mature. It’s not immature, but it doesn’t feel that mature just yet.
With vigorous “chewing”, I taste roasty honey, dried red apple and cherry, and vanilla, then a lot of roasted oak, cinnamon, and nutmeg, followed by roasted coffee, nuttiness, tobacco, blueberry, and some pineapple and mint.
Ok, now I’m sold…this is delicious. The second time around, I don’t really get any toasted grain of any kind, replaced by more sweetness, fruit, and oak. That roasted graininess could just be my senses adjusting to the bourbon. I don’t warm up for these reviews, so I technically do that mid-review.
I know this sounds crazy, but the flavors have 3 acts. There’s a sweet and fruity part, then a very oaky and spicy part, then a return to sweet and fruity with some oak. I poured myself a few extra sips to confirm that actually happened, and it did.
The finish starts with caramelized honey, baked red apple and dried cherry, oak, and cinnamon with lingering sweet oak, dried cherry, and cinnamon. After “chewing”, the aftertaste leaves honey, vanilla, berry jam, roasted oak, cinnamon, and mint, then again leaves me with lingering roasted oak, cinnamon, dark chocolate, and a little nuttiness. This blueberry jam thing pops in and out and it’s really nice.
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon has rich and bold flavors. To be fair, the definition could be better, as the sweetness and fruitiness feel a bit muddled and flabby, but I appreciate the fruitiness that comes through and balances out the oak. Blueberry occasionally appearing is a great touch as well.
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon is a very roasty and woody bourbon that at times might overdo it a bit, but overall this is well crafted.
I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too. Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon​ Rating

Top Shelf
Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon has some ups and downs, but it eventually does enough to stick the landing. It’s a well done melding of average-aged bourbon (at this point 4 years is fairly average) and wine finish that elevates the whole experience to one that has rich sweetness and fruit, plus a lot of oak that’s not a blunt hammer of woodiness and dryness.
There are 2 things that I wish were better / different, which I think would have made a huge difference. First, I wish that the scents and flavors were more defined. Second, I’d like a stronger finish with more red fruit sweetness. More sweetness would be a welcome addition that better complements the oak. I think the existing approach ends up working too, but I always hope for more.
As for price, I think that it’s $85ish good, so good enough to justify the price. I wish it were closer to $70 to be a homerun price-wise, but I think the interesting flavor experience is worth the existing cost of admission. That said, it still may be a tough sell for some who are deterred by the combination of younger bourbon, premium price, and the not well-known brand. Hopefully in the future, this uses bourbon that’s at least 5 years old, because this is a compelling bourbon.
Since I always do mental comparisons, Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask comes to mind as a comparable comparison – a $65-70 five year old bourbon finished in Pedro Jimemez sherry casks. Wyoming Bourbon is older and the finish is different, but still wine. Both are great options, but I give the edge to Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask because of the slightly better balance that features the wine more, better definition, and this amazing mature and refined oakiness that makes it feel double its age.
If you’re looking for a finished bourbon, then I recommend giving Ammunition Cask Strength Bourbon a try.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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