RaggedReview [In Depth]

Pursuit United Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Pursuit United Bourbon header

Pursuit United Bourbon​ Details

Distillery / Brand: Bourbon Pursuit (sourced from various US distilleries)

Type & Region: Bourbon, USA

Alcohol: 54%

Composition: Not stated

Aged: At least 4 years

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

Price: $60

From the company website:

We harmoniously unite the best characteristics from multiple bourbons, regardless of mashbill, distillery, and location to develop a one-of-a-kind flavor profile that breaks free from tradition and starts a new adventure. This four grain expression uses rye and wheated bourbons to create an uncommon whiskey. Enjoy this pursuit.

Pursuit United Bourbon​ overview

Pursuit United finally showed up in my area, so I figured that it was time to buy a bottle and try one of their whiskeys for myself.
In the off chance that you don’t know who or what Bourbon Pursuit is, they are the podcast team of Kenny Coleman and Ryan Cecil who have done hundreds of interviews and other whiskey-related content for their podcast – Bourbon Pursuit. It is very well known and very popular. I listen to it from time to time, as I’m sometimes curious what’s happening in American whiskey.
Eventually, they decided to expand to not only talk about whiskey and single barrel picks, but to create it themselves under their own label. They source various American whiskeys from large and small distilleries to create various single barrel (called Pursuit Episode) and blended releases (Pursuit United). On top of that, their facility is right on whiskey row in Louisville, Kentucky, so you can go visit them when you’re in town.
What we have with Pursuit United Bourbon, this one batch 11CD (no idea what it means), is a blend of Kentucky, Tennessee, and New York bourbons…hence the term “United”. It’s not on the bottle, but the website provides more detail on sources. Oh, and this is a four grain bourbon.
The Kentucky component comes from Bardstown Bourbon Company, the New York component from Finger Lakes distilling, and the Tennessee component from a distillery that’s “not in Tullahoma”, meaning not from George Dickel. I’m guessing that there’s a non-disclosure agreement there.
In my brief internet search, I did find that Nashville Craft Distillery has a bourbon made from 80% corn and 10% rye, so it’s entirely possible that it comes from there. I could also be completely wrong, but at least I’m in the right state.
I suspect that some / all of the wheated bourbon comes from Finger Lakes, as I’ve seen various wheated single barrel releases over the years from them.
I have a minor bone to pick with Bourbon Pursuit – I emailed them about getting media samples, and they more or less brushed me off in their reply. At least they didn’t ignore me entirely. I’m not going to hold a grudge though, otherwise I would have not bought a bottle with my own money. I genuinely want to learn more about what they’re doing. If the result is amazing, then we all win.
Let’s find out if the blend leads to unique, uncommon, and great results in this Pursuit United Bourbon review.
Pursuit United Bourbon back

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.

Pursuit United Bourbon​ smell

I smell honey, vanilla, minerality (very Dickel-like), dried cherry and cranberry, roasted oak, cinnamon, peanut brittle, chocolate fudge, and maple syrup. Is there really no Dickel in here? I mean…I know for a fact that there isn’t but it sure smells like there is. Even after 2-3 sniffs, the minerality and nuttiness are really noticeable. It could still come from the Tennessee whiskey, who knows.
Pursuit United Bourbon is bold, woody, spicy, dark, and fruity with a nice kind of sappy sweetness, but it is also surprisingly hot for 54% ABV. It’s strong and distracting, although not quite domineering. It’s enough that it gets in the way more often than I’d like but doesn’t completely cover up the scents.
Apart from the singe-y heat that often gets in the way, it smells quite good underneath that.
After swirling and 15 minutes of rest, I smell dense caramel candy, that not-Dickel minerality, dried red apple peel and cranberry, a lot of roasted oak and cinnamon spice, marshmallow, cherry syrup, and some bright fennel, dried orange, mocha, and maple syrup.
The scents are focused on the rich and dark sweetness, with oak, minerality, fruit, and spice in support. This is still hot, but less so than before. I think my nose is calming down, because I don’t think that the bourbon is actually this hot…it might be me.
The minerality really sticks out. It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely there and I can’t shake it. I would love to know what the heck is doing that, but if it’s not Dickel…what the hell is it? I don’t mind it, but it is unavoidable.
Pursuit United Bourbon has some bold scents and good range, but not much nuance or complexity – fragrant and really good, but not amazing.
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Pursuit United Bourbon​ taste and aftertaste

The flavors start off with caramel, dried apricot and red apple peel, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some brighter herbal fennel and gentle bitterness. It’s boldly sweet and very woody, although it’s also not really all that lively, complex, or deep. Pursuit United Bourbon is flavorful, but I’m not that impressed so far.
Things get more interesting after “chewing”. I get dark caramel, dried cherry and red apple skin, vanilla, and then a wave of roasted oak and cinnamon, then herbal fennel, pineapple, mocha, and a little caraway seed, minerality, and nuttiness. Pursuit United Bourbon continues to lean in on the dark sweetness and oak, but now with a bit more brighter herbal and fruity accents.
The viscosity and mouthfeel are solid as well, with way less heat and kick than in the scents. I definitely enjoy this more the second time around. In general, the mineraly and nutty notes that I often associate with Dickel (although there’s no Dickel in the blend), are far less noticeable in the flavors than they are the scents.
The finish starts with caramel, a lot of roasted oak and cinnamon, and some roasted coffee and nuttiness. After “chewing”, it leaves caramel, vanilla, roasted oak and oak spices, dried red apple, and a little bit of minerality and nuttiness.
While it is a lot better this time around, the flavors still come off a bit muddled and flabby. I don’t really get anything that pops and gets me to think “oh that’s interesting”…and “chewing” is usually where that pop, burst, zing, and pizzazz come to life and “Top Shelf” ratings are earned. There’s a hint of herbal and bright fruit pop, but that’s about it. It’s a bummer that it didn’t happen for me.
Pursuit United Bourbon is enjoyable, but I’m not amazed by it.
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.

Pursuit United Bourbon​ Rating

Mid shelf+
Pursuit United Bourbon is solid and I enjoyed drinking it…but smelling is occasionally a different thing entirely. I don’t know what it is, but it kicked pretty hard at times and I’m surprised that it didn’t completely overwhelm me. Thankfully, it wasn’t one of those situations where it completely derailed the experience, but it didn’t elevate it either. To be fair though, I’m noticing that spirits are hotter than usual, so it might be me and less so the bourbon.
But when it comes to the flavors, the dark sweetness is the best part of the experience. I don’t associate Bardstown Bourbon with dark sweetness and I don’t know much about Finger Lakes or the unknown Tennessee distillery, but the combination of all three bourbons ends up that way, and I dig it.
The oakiness and spiciness are also well-controlled, and the background fruitiness adds to my overall enjoyment. There’s a lot of good here, so blending was done well.
I can see this being a great foundation for an old fashioned that uses maple syrup instead of simple syrup. Associating this with a cocktail is not meant to be a bad thing, but a reference to how the personality, with a focus on dark sweetness, can be enjoyed in another way. I have maple syrup, so I’m going to have to try that for myself.
What limits its ceiling are that impact, pop, layers, depth, and / or something truly memorable are missing. There are moments where it almost gets there, but it leaves me hanging and searching for something special. The dark sweetness, although nice as-is, doesn’t quite get there, and that could have been the most compelling and impactful part.
I think that this would have been way more compelling at $50, but it might financially ruin Kenny and Cecil…which I think we can all agree should be avoided. It’s tough because sourcing puts them at a cost disadvantage because they have to pay the distillery for their whiskey and then have enough left over to pay themselves. It’s not a bad buy at $60, but it’s not one that you have to go out and get right now.
I mention that because there are a lot of amazing bourbons for around $50-60, including Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, Wyoming Whiskey Double Cask Bourbon, Still Austin Cask Strength Bourbon (closer to $50), Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon (also closer to $40-50), Bardstown Bourbon’s own Bottled in Bond Wheated Bourbon ($50ish), and Jeptha Creed Red White and Blue (a little higher at $70). Did you notice that those are all homemade…with possibly the exception of Michter’s (they’re a confusing one).
I am not at all against sourcing, but it just makes it far more difficult to lower the cost.
I guess my point is that the Bourbon Pursuit team did a good job crafting this bourbon and blending 3 different components into something tasty, but I personally am not bending over backwards to buy more of it. I do intend to try more of their whiskeys, and hopefully I can find one that really sticks with me.
I wish them the best of luck in their endeavor.
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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BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)