Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon Review [In Depth]

Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon header

Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon Details

Distillery: Maverick Distilling

Type & Region: Bourbon, Texas, USA

Alcohol: 45%

Composition: 72% Texas-grown corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley

Aged: Somewhere in the 2 to 4 year range

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

Price: $75

From the company website:

Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a grain-to-glass whiskey produced completely in-house using select Texas-grown corn, rye, and barley and aged on-site in the vaults below the distillery located in the historic Lockwood National Bank building steps from the Alamo. Just seven barrels of the four-year-old reserve bourbon were bottled for this small-batch limited release.

This premium hand-crafted straight bourbon is the first by Maverick Whiskey Distillery that is produced fully in-house. Glowing rich amber in color, Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey boasts deep aromas of clover-scented honey, Lockhart barbecue, and roasted Hill Country pecans. It’s a full-bodied bourbon with velvety texture and front-forward warm vanilla and subdued caramel flavors from Texas sweet corn and Edwards Aquifer water which grab the palate with each sip.

Maverick Malthouse Rye brings out a balanced bitter-sweet chocolate flavors that melt into subtle clove and nutmeg of North Texas malted barley. Samuel Maverick Private Reserve is a straight bourbon to be savored with a rich honey and pepper finish which lingers with a wisp of smoke from the barrels, or maybe from the spirits of the Alamo.

Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon overview

Maverick Distilling is one of a growing number of whiskey distilleries in Texas. Being founded in 2017 in San Antonio, Texas, you could probably say that they’re one of the newer ones on the block too.
At the same time, history indicates that Maverick Dististilling, or at least the foundation for it, may have existed as far back as the early to mid 1800’s. Let me explain because there’s a lot to unpack here. I’ll touch on some things, and let you discover the rest yourself if you care to. If you want more details, check out their website for more details.
To start, Maverick Distilling was founded by Kenneth and Amy Maverick. The distillery is named after Kenneth Maverick’s great-great-great-grandfather – Samuel Maverick, who is apparently quite the figure in Texas. His story includes leaving the Alamo to get help, signing the Texas Independence documents, being San Antonio’s mayor, and a whole bunch of other stuff.
And the reason why there’s the foundation of a distillery: he used to distill his own whiskey. While it wasn’t necessarily a big operation, he apparently did produce some whiskey. A few hundred years later, his great great great grandson (Kenneth Maverick) found documents on how it was made, among many other documents. And so, the idea to start a distillery was born…or reborn.
If you want to learn more about the founders, Kenneth and Amy Maverick, this San Antonio Express News interview with them is worth reading. It’s an interesting window into who they are, why they founded the distillery, and how the distillery is run.
Before I get too ahead of myself, this is their “Private Reserve” version of their bourbon. This bottle comes from batch 19-37. They have a “standard” 2-ish year old bourbon that’s 44% ABV, and this is the slightly older and higher ABV version with better barrel selection. The goal is to provide an elevated representation of their bourbon. Hopefully that is the case.
There is one point of confusion for me – the age. The back of the bottle states at least 2 years old but the website says 4 years old. There’s a disconnect there that I can’t reconcile, although it’s possible that I got a bottle with an outdated label while the website can be updated at any time.
The website mentions an interesting tidbit that’s worth pondering – they age the bourbon in the bank vault under the bank, and not in above ground facilities. Traditionally, rickhouses are placed above ground, where the fluctuations in temperature and humidity force the whiskey to interact with the oak. That’s how you get all the sweetness, fruitiness, woodiness, and spice. Everyone…I mean EVERYONE…does it that way.
By entirely aging the whiskey underground, they are completely changing the environment in which the whiskey ages. There’s going to be less fluctuation in temperature, and temperatures are going to be lower in general. Hot Texas summer would really ramp up more intense oak aging, but underground It’s going to be a more mellow and gradual process all year round.
It’s even more curious that the bourbon is as dark as it is for being 2-4 years old, especially when it’s been aged underground, shielded away from the Texas heat. Something doesn’t add up to me, but maybe that more gradual aging in virgin oak barrels is also good and can infuse just as much color.
Let’s find out if the bourbon can come close to meeting the legacy of the man behind it in this Samuel Maverick Texas Straight Bourbon review.
Thank you to Maverick Distilling for providing this bottle. All opinions are still my own.
Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon back 2

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Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon smell

I smell earthy honey, orange peel, caraway seed, roasted grain, roasted oak and a certain youthful woodiness I get from some younger bourbons, cherry, red apple, ginger, black pepper, pumpkin spice bread, and then more grain.
Samuel Maverick Texas Straight Bourbon surprisingly has good richness and body, that of a 6-8 year old bourbon, but I can’t shake some of the telltale youthful scents like the earthiness and grain. I don’t know why, but I’m often sensitive to those notes, and for a lack of a better term I can smell them from a mile away.
For better or worse, the scents go heavy on the pumpkin spice scents with a lot of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, caraway seed, and something like pumpkin. It’s a double edged sword because it’s very fragrant and expressive, yet feels young at the same time. It’s hard to clearly explain why, but that’s how I think about it.
After swirling and rest, I smell dense darker honey and preserved orange peel followed by a lot of earthy caraway seed, baked red apple, roasted oak and grain, cinnamon, roasted pumpkin spice (if that’s even a thing), dried ginger, and popcorn.
The scents are actually very expressive, so it’s quite easy to pick out everything. The definition isn’t bad either. Again, Samuel Maverick Texas Straight Bourbon goes surprisingly heavy on the caraway seed, ginger, and roasted grains. The scents are growing on me, although the slight over-earthiness and graininess don’t always help.
Overall Samuel Maverick Texas Straight Bourbon often smells very good and mature at times, but still occasionally shows off some youth.
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Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with honey, orange peel, vanilla, red apple, caraway seed, roasted oak, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, roasted grains, and dried ginger. Samuel Maverick Straight Bourbon is still quite earthy and grainy, but way less so than in the scents.
Nonetheless, Samuel Maverick Straight Bourbon has surprisingly bold flavors and viscosity for somewhere from 2-4 years old and 90 proof, tasting far more mature than it actually is. It’s good, although there are some things that just need more time to develop, such as getting rid of that hint of youthful soggy oak and grain.
With “chewing”, I taste a lot of honey and orange at first, followed by caraway seed, dried ginger, roasted oak, vanilla, baked red apple, cinnamon, popcorn, nutmeg, and licorice. Yeah, it has a lot of earthiness plus pumpkin spice / gingerbread-type flavors, as well as a lot of graininess, although the graininess is not unpleasant.
The finish starts with earthy honey, caraway seed, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, roasted oak, red apple, and orange peel with lingering orange and apple peel, cardamom, cinnamon, and caraway seed. And after “chewing”, it leaves honey, orange peel, earthy caraway seed, nutmeg, clove, roasted grains, licorice, and red apple.
Samuel Maverick Straight Bourbon has solid richness, range, and viscosity with minimal heat, so this already has some great maturity and development. The earthiness and slight sogginess still makes it feel young at times, but overall this is good.
Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon front
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.

Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon Rating

Mid shelf+
Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon is quite good. For better or worse, it jumps back and forth between often feeling very mature at times and then occasionally young again, which can be a bit jarring. The overall experience nets out to be mostly mature, rich, and expressive. I can only imagine how intense and bold the barrel strength version is, and how much better it might be with more aging.
Assuming that it’s 2 years old (although it’s probably 4), this is already way ahead of the curve. This at 6 years old could be amazing, as long as the sweetness and fruitiness fill-out more while the earthiness and graininess fade away with time.
That said, the earthiness and graininess are the 2 main things that prevent me from fully engaging and enjoying this. Those things inherently aren’t bad (I’m a big fan of rye whiskey), but there’s so much of it at times that it comes at the expense of balance.
There’s a slight sogginess too that I can’t shake in the scents or flavors, and I always associate that with young craft whiskey. I hope that those things can be aged or blended out with more time, because what’s in the bottle right now is very good.
Overall though, aging in an underground bank vault ended up not being a bad thing.
The $75 price is steep, but I understand why. Maverick Distilling is still young, and focusing on local ingredients and production, with little to no sourcing, is not fast or cheap. Time is money, especially at the beginning and with more age, plus distilling equipment is mad expensive. You need money to keep the lights on, and it’s even more important in the early stages.
My point is, Samuel Maverick Private Reserve Bourbon is a very good, albeit expensive, craft option out of Texas that has a lot to like, and some things still left to improve.
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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