I was first enthralled with the story of Horse Soldier when I got together with some guys from Montana over cigars and bourbon. Being in a state controlled liquor state the bottle wasn’t available at the time but it’s been on my radar since that day in September of 2022.
According to the website, “The Horse Soldier brotherhood was forged in fire during the first days after the 9/11 attacks. Immediately following this affront on our nation, the USA responded with a daring insertion of small teams of Green Berets into northern Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance successfully overthrew Mazar-i-Sharif, a Taliban stronghold, with the support of these brave men. This region’s inhospitable, mountainous terrain made efforts and enemy engagements on wild Afghan horses a necessity for one Special Operations team (ODA595). Nicknamed the “Horse Soldiers,” all these brave men are honored today by America’s Response Monument overlooking “Ground Zero” in New York City.”
The company currently has three offerings at the time of this review consisting of Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey and Barrel Strength Bourbon Whiskey.
Bourbon Review: Horse Soldier Barrel Strength
ABV: 60.75% (121.5 Proof)
Age: 6+ Years
Color: Dark Amber
Mash Bill: 70% Corn, 20% Wheat, and 10% Malted Barley
Handmade & Bottled By: American Freedom Distillery
Location: Columbus, OH (USA)
The Nose: At first waft an aroma of oak stimulates the olfactory senses. Letting the Horse Soldier Barrel Strength sit for a bit sees the addition of apricots, butterscotch and subtle ginger component.
The Taste: My friend Kendra and I both had our first taste of this bourbon on Easter morning over brunch. We were in agreement we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of heat from this high proof bourbon. The initial sip features a strong apricot note with a subtle butterscotch finish.
Subsequent sips show off notes of vanilla and cherries along with a subtle cinnamon finish. It’s incredibly smooth with a nice amount of sweetness and a long approachable finish.
The Pairing: I opted to pair the Horse Solder with a Tatuaje Tuxtla Pork Tenderloin simply because ham is associated with Easter, the date of this review. On its own the cigar has notes of black pepper, molasses, and a touch of clove. When pairing with this full bodied Nicaraguan there is more spice and heat visible on the 121.5 proof bourbon. In addition, the wheat from the mash bill is more visible on the palate. As always our pairing never affects our final score. If it did it would result in a minus two to the final score due to the added heat.
The Finish: The Horse Soldier Barrel Strength is in a word outstanding. One of the better Barrel Strength bourbons I’ve had in recent memory. It’s incredibly balanced with a nice depth of flavor that doesn’t get lost in the higher ABV. While a bit pricey it’s something I have no remorse from purchasing and something I want on my bar at home at all times.
Price: $99.99 (750 ml) in New Hampshire