BLAZING THEIR OWN TRAIL: Without any family ties to a specific recipe or style, Wilderness Trail founders Pat Heist and Shane Baker have been able to take a different, more scientific approach to their goal of making great Whiskey. Baker, a mechanical engineer, and Heist, a PhD microbiologist and biochemist, initially started a consulting firm helping clients start distilleries before striking out on their own and opening Wilderness Trail in 2012.
The distillery is chemical-free, which is unusual in a business where clean equipment is of the utmost importance and chemicals are often necessary for sanitization. Also, they've embraced using a sweet mash as the sole mashing technique, which is meant to produce a softer and cleaner distillate.
Their "Settlers Select" Rye is a single barrel, cask strength four-year-old rye whiskey with one of the lowest entry proofs (100 proof) in the industry. It’s a Kentucky-style rye with a three-grain recipe of 56% rye, 33% corn and 11% malted barley content in the mashbill.
On the nose it’s bright with notes of lemon peel, baking spice, and new leather. As it opens up, things get more dessert-y with some vanilla custard and orange creamsicle. The brightness carries through to the palate with a big burst of orange citrus and clove. The mid-palate introduces a little chili pepper and some barrel char heading into a light, yet creamy, medium-length finish with lingering notes of flamed orange peel.