Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Texas Bourbon Review [In Depth]

Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Texas Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
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Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Texas Bourbon Details

Distillery: Charles Goodnight

Type & Region: Bourbon, Texas, USA

Alcohol: 57.5%

Composition: 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Barley

Aged: 6 years

Color: 1.4/2.0 on the color scale (tawny)

Price: $80

From the company website:

Charles Goodnight Straight Bourbon Whiskey is made from Texas-grown corn and water sourced from deep local underground aquifers. The mash bill is packed with rye – 36% to be exact – for a peppery spice to complement the sweetness of the corn. This bold, high rye Texas bourbon is aged in new, charred American white oak barrels for six years in the intense Texas heat for a dark, rich, and hearty character. This unique aging process, when combined with locally sourced water and corn, means Charles Goodnight Whiskey is not just distilled in Texas… it is Texas, distilled.

Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon overview

Charles Goodnight is a brand shrouded in mystery. The bourbon comes from an unknown Texas distillery, the Charles Goodnight name is unknown in most circles, and I personally have rarely seen their bourbon on store shelves.
First off, Charles Goodnight is not connected to any heritage whiskey brand or Kentucky family. He is a rancher who apparently contributed a lot to ranching and Texas in general. I’m not much of a rancher so it’s all new to me, but the Charles Goodnight website provides more information if you want to learn more.
Here’s an interesting fact – this is called Texas bourbon so it’s safe to assume that the bourbon was distilled and aged in Texas, but the website and bottle write “Bottled by Goodnight Distillery, Mira Loma, CA”. That probably means that they source bourbon from Texas and bottle it in California. From which distillery, who knows. I’m not familiar with where companies can source Texas Bourbon.
Other than that, this is a barrel strength 6 year old Texas bourbon, which is actually pretty interesting. Given how crazy hot Texas can be for much of the year, 6 years is a fairly long time in oak. With all that heat comes more oak interaction, so the risk with aging bourbon in Texas is that the oak aging will be overdone.
Let’s find out what’s new coming out of Texas in this Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon review.
Thank you to Charles Goodnight for the bottle. All opinions are still my own.
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Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon smell

The scents have caramel, ripe peach, something musty and sweet, funky vanilla buttercream, roasted oak, dried mushrooms, dried apricot and cherry, and orange peel. Charles Goodnight Bourbon smells nice in some ways with dense sweetness and fruitiness, plus well controlled heat, but there’s something off about it too.
There’s a pronounced fungal and musty note, but not in a good way. It’s good in Laphroaig, but it’s not so good here. It might even be a mix of melted plastic and fake vanilla. Those are very different things, but there’s this artificial note. It’s like a dessert that’s recently gone bad.
It smells fairly similar after “swirling” and some rest, but I get more mesquite smoke and cinnamon.
You know what it is, it smells like it’s been finished for far too long in Amburana staves, although this is completely unfinished. There’s an artificial vanilla cream hand lotion smell and cinnamon toast crunch that makes me think that.
I got to try some whiskey that was finished in Amburana spirals for a few weeks, which was too long, and it reminds me of that same unpleasantness.
I’ve somewhat gotten used to that wackiness, but Charles Goodnight would smell a whole lot better without it. It’s not awful, but it’s not pleasant to smell. That one off thing is enough to keep me disengaged.
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Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with caramel, funky vanilla buttercream, peach, this weird medicinal sweetness I’ve never experienced before, roasted oak, cinnamon, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon initially is sweet, but then it goes downhill. There’s something off with the flavors – a medicinal and fungal sweetness that I’ve never tasted before. I don’t like it.
Otherwise, I think that flavors would be tasty. There’s above average density and viscosity, but it’s a bit flabby and undefined. Mostly, I can’t get away from that unpleasant medicinal / fungal / sweet thing.
It’s not that I can’t handle ”weird” or “off”. There can be some weird flavors in whiskey, especially peated scotch (with all sorts of weirdness) and some super sherried scotches (nutty and cheesy funk) but this is really weird even for me.
After “chewing” I get caramel, peach, roasted oak, vanilla cream, cinnamon, a really weird funk, dried apricot and orange peel, cinnamon toast crunch, and some spicy pepper. For the most part, this doesn’t actually taste bad. Charles Goodnight Bourbon actually has pretty good density and viscosity, although it’s still a bit flabby and muddled.
The aftertaste has caramel, medicinal sweetness, vanilla cream, peach, roasted oak, spicy cinnamon, and black pepper. The weirdness is less forward here.
This could actually be quite good, but I can’t get over that weirdness. I think that I’ve kind of figured it out – it’s that strange artificial vanilla cream and cinnamon note. It’s weirdly sweet and medicinal, and flags to me that I probably shouldn’t consume it.
I just have a face of confusion and a slight frown when I drink this.
Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon isn’t completely undrinkable, but I really don’t like drinking this.

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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.

Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength Bourbon Rating

Bottom Shelf Plus
Oh boy, I’m going to start off my verdict section with a rhetorical question – how do you rate something that’s unpleasant to smell and drink, but isn’t completely undrinkable? It’s more or less rated the same as Jim Beam White, but the rating doesn’t reflect all the reasons why.
Jim Beam White is an underdeveloped cheap bourbon using the worst barrels that Jim Beam has to offer, and is mainly intended as a mixer. Charles Goodnight Barrel Strength, on the other hand, is far from affordable and probably meant to be a premium sipping bourbon. It’s just jarring to drink.
I hate asking myself that question because I don’t review spirits to bash them, but I have to be truthful with my opinions and feelings. Just like Charles Goodnight’s reputation is on the line when they give me a bottle to review, mine is on the line when I review it.
This is my main verdict – Charles Goodnight Straight Bourbon has some really good moments, but that off-putting and artificial vanilla-cinnamon hand cream thing is a major flaw that makes it hard to enjoy and takes down the entire experience. There are some positive highs, but it doesn’t matter as a whole.
It’s like this bourbon has an overdone amburana finish that was left in there for a few weeks too long. I actually would know, this is similar to an American whiskey I tried that was finished for too long with amburana spirals. It wasn’t a retail product, but an experiment. That too had that unpleasant hand cream thing. I have no idea how Charles Goodnight Bourbon got those strange notes, but they have to go.
There’s great bourbon coming out of Texas, but this is not one of them. I don’t enjoy writing that, but that’s how I truly feel. Charles Goodnight team, please figure out what the problem is and fix it.
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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