2020 Hardest Harvest Party to Take Place in Your Mouth

Annual release from Davidson Reserve available today at Pennington Distilling Company

Today, October 17, is a big anniversary for Pennington Distilling Company. It marks the date of laying down their first barrel of whiskey to age. Today that bourbon is six years old, making it some of the oldest whiskey distilled in Nashville since Prohibition.

For the past four years, this anniversary has been celebrated with a block party at the distillery, complete with bon fires, local bands, Nashville restaurants, and, of course, whiskey. As does everything else, this year the Hardest Harvest party looks a bit different. It will be a drive-thru. Fans of the brand still have a chance to grab this year’s Davidson Reserve releases before they hit retail shelves, but the celebration will be DIY.

From 11 to 4 today, you can drive up to the distillery to pick up bottles of Pennington’s whiskeys. If you like, you can reserve those bottles by visiting davidsonreserve.com. Available for the first time today will be their annual release of Davidson Reserve Genesis and a special release of Davidson Reserve Bourbon, the first bottling of their wheated bourbon expression.

The 2020 Genesis is a 6 year old Bottled in Bond. This high rye bourbon is bottled on this day every year, on its “birthday” and is a very limited release of only 1,017 bottles. As this liquid ages, it is mellowing quite nicely, evolving into a luscious vanilla and caramel bomb, laced with rich spice and a lasting finish.

I might have to say, this is my most favorite thing we’ve released.

Jeff Pennington, on the 2020 Davidson Reserve Genesis

The new small-batch expression of wheated bourbon is a blend of 5 and 6-year-old barrels. I sat down with Jeff Pennington, co-founder of the distillery, earlier this week. We tasted a number of different blends of this bourbon as he was making the final decision on what would be bottled. “It’s amazing how different they are,” he noted. He was right.

The goal was to use the different ages of these barrels, allowing the contrasting characteristics to come together to create a balanced, small batch blend. Some of the barrels best expressed the flavors familiar in a wheated bourbon while others contributed to a well-rounded finish. The final product, available today, is a combination of those two components, blended with barrels chosen for their more advanced age. The result is a wheater that can hold its own next to the traditional brands like Maker’s Mark or, dare I say, Weller.

Tasting through all of these barrels, Pennington discovered that the barrels might have ideas of their own. “There’s so much difference in each of the barrels. They’re stellar on their own.” It’s safe to say that a Blanton’s-style single barrel program for these wheaters is imminent.

Tennessee whiskeys and bourbons continue to earn their chops. These two releases of Davidson Reserve are exceptional examples of what the Volunteer State is capable of producing. Remember, these are very limited releases. While a few bottles may hit retail stores after today, your best chances are to hit the drive through!