Black Button Distilling [Distillery Tasting & Review]

For those of you who didn’t read the last distillery review, here’s a quick version: Craft Distillers interest me, I think they are the future, it’s my birthday, we went on vacation, I drank at them and reviewed them.

Black Button 1.jpg

Our next stop for distilleries (that had whiskey ready to review) was Black Button Distilling. Located in Rochester, Black Button Distilling is located in an old Button factory. And one day his boss came up to him, and asked him…

NOPE! Not getting into that.

As a kid, he was asked to sort buttons. After he was done, one thing was evident: Young Jason Barrett was colourblind. He was then cast out and dashed on rocks to ensure that the Spartan legions would have strong buttons.

No, wait, that’s insane. Instead he was given the opportunity by his family to go his own way. Taking the old joke that he’s only be able to sell Black Buttons, he started his distillery at 24.

Dear God I’m jealous as all get out.

The main space for the distillery has now been open for 3 and a half years. They are grain to glass, choosing all the grains themselves from local farms in New York. Not to mention they now employ 7 full time employees, and 25 part time employees.

They make vodka, gin, and of course, fernet… FUCK, I mean whiskey. Of course they make whiskey, that’s why I was there.

All products are unfiltered, with no colour added.

The eventual plan is to have a 5 and 10 year old bourbon, which are aging as you read this, unless it’s far into the future…. then I don’t really know.

The amazing staff at the tasting bar really know their stuff. The manager (who I can’t remember her name but she recently had a cat picture make it to the front page of reddit) was able to help my wife with different types of gin all while walking me through all the annoyingly wonderful questions I had.

Not to mention they are a few doors down from some of the best pizza I’ve ever had in the US. In a brewery. That served pretzels.

I’ll give you a moment to think about spiders and baseball to calm yourself down.

Each of the following drams were tasted as a set. I was instructed to jump between them, versus my usual way of trying one at a time. No water was added, though was offered. I could have also bought an extra sample of the Port Wood, but I was quite drunk by the end.


Black Button 2.jpg

4 Grain Bourbon – Batch 1 is the first Bourbon that was released by Black Button Distilling. It’s served up to show the difference between it and the current batch, No.7.

Price: No longer available for purchase

Region: New York

Age: 17 months

Mashbill is 60% corn, 20% wheat, 9% rye, and 11% malted barley

Abv: 42%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Alcohol, oak, pine, caramel

Quite strong on the nose. This shows it’s youth at first, and I’m starting to wonder if I made a mistake. Given some time there’s more caramel on the nose, which is a relief.

The nose needs work.

Taste: Pine, floral, caramel, cocoa, honeycomb

Some youth on the initial taste. Given a little time though this develops a lot of floral notes, like honey. Quite tasty. Even some earth with cocoa.

Finish: Melon, pine nuts, honey, wheat

Finish puts to rest any notes of younger age. Surprisingly tasty, though quite quick, as my cannibalistic ex used to say.

Conclusion: The first batch surprises me with more complexity. They’ve been able to pull out quite a bit of sweet and floral notes.

The nose is pretty rough. Not going to lie. It’s enough that I’d question it. The finish? Impressive. It’s young, again, and I’m going to say that more times than a matchmaker for Jimmy Savile, but has some actual unique parts.


4 Grain Bourbon – Batch 7 is the same mashbill as above, however after 6 more batches of hard work, learning from previous times, and maybe even blending barrels. It’ll have some older whiskey in it.

Price: $54 (USD)

Region: New York

Age: 17 months

Mashbill is 60% corn, 20% wheat, 9% rye, and 11% malted barley

Abv: 42% Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Juniper, cherry, blueberry, mint

I actually have to hand my wife to figure out I’m not crazy and am actually smelling juniper. Luckily the main gin’s that are sold (and being drank by my wife) are either empty or citrus forward.

So I think it’s fair to say: Yeah, juniper. Nice amount of mint and fruit. Really nice nose. Not overly complex, but come on: It’s young.

Taste: Herbal, pine, caramel, floral, mint

Lots of herb. There’s still some youthful pine. Also some nice floral and mint notes. You can tell the spirit has a nice amount of smooth mint.

Finish: Anise, cocoa, metal, peanut, vanilla

Quite nice finish. Lots of earth and sweet notes. The American New Oak is lending good amounts of vanilla.

Conclusion: That’s quite the improvement. This really surprised me. I understood there could be some change, however keeping the mashbill as a constant and only changing the age by a few years has shown a nice, easy drinking.

I could sit back and sip this as a drink for the evening. There’s no rough notes. Granted I’m guessing that was done partially from mixing, and partially from watering it down to avoid. I’m hoping that future batches continue on this trend.


4 Grain Bourbon – Single Barrel 127 is different. This is the current single barrel that has been opened to serve as part of the whiskey lineup. This gives new people the chance to see the difference between casks while gives whiskey nerds a chance to try the unique aspects of different casks.

I was told it was a crying shame I couldn’t try the last one. Then they were nice enough to hunt some down. So, let’s see how these two single barrels taste, shall we?

Price: Couldn’t find a price, sorry

Region: New York

Age: 14 months

Mashbill is 60% corn, 20% wheat, 9% rye, and 11% malted barley

Abv: 42%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Cola, banana, coconut, chestnut

Very nutty, dry, and sweet. Extremely different than the ones above. Where as they aren’t 100% caramel, this one seems to be trying to fall into the “dark sweets” category.

Taste: Coconut, cola, caramel

Very similar to the nose. Stays consistent. Reminds me of rum almost. Or a good rum finish. It’s a lot of caramel.

Finish: Coconut, dry, anise, black pepper

Quite a dry finish. All the caramel is gone. Is this a haiku?

Little hot on the finish. Needs a little more to it.

Conclusion: This is a very caramel forward dram that certainly needs some help. Some more time, mixture with other casks, or even a finish in a white wine cask. It has caramel and coconut down pat. Beyond that? Not too much.

However again, as I’m constantly surprised at the lack of rough notes. This one comes close, with some extra dry notes and some hot black pepper notes, but is nice to sip on.


4 Grain Bourbon – Single Barrel 117 is out. It’s gone. I was given the last dram. But I reviewed it anyway. Because I’m great like that. You’re welcome.

Price: I think I drank the last dram… so… oops.

Region: New York

Age: 17 months

Abv: 42%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Coconut milk, hazelnut, wheat, sunflowers, cherry

The most complex nose of the bunch. Has a lot of different notes. Really nutty. Lots of wheat. This reminds me of stronger wheaters.

Taste: Cherry, caramel, peanut

Good mouthfeel. Much better than the previous one.

Not as much going on with the taste. It’s closer and nuttier than the above.

Finish: Caramel, white pepper, orange peel, butter, nutmeg

And back to some complexity. Hot, but not annoyingly so. Needs to take some time and let it open up. And then it has a Xmas flavour to it all.

Conclusion: I can see why people really, really enjoyed this cask. It’s opened up the most of the bunch on the nose. I think it’s coming really close to the batch 7 in complexity, which is impressive from a single barrel.

Sad to see it go, glad I got to drink it.


Bourbon review #150-153, New York review #2-5, Whiskey Network review #856-859

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