Greetings From Portland's Bourbon Street
We’ll let you in on a secret. Portland wasn’t always Portlandia, “where young people go to retire.” In the 80s and early 90s, this was a scruffy working class city. Even the mayor, Bud Clark, owned a tavern – The Goose Hollow Inn.
Nice thing is, that “bushy-bearded, tavern-owning, bike-loving mayor,” as the local paper puts it, “helped codify Portland’s image as zanily idiosyncratic.”
In other words, the kind of shyly hopeful place where a kid in an all-girl rock band could feel nurtured. The seeds of freedom for creative self-expression were sown. It wasn’t long before a downtrodden skidrow transformed into a thriving hub of activity, alive with creative exploration.
Playing home to a host of iconic music venues, record stores and street performers, this is the real epicenter of Portland’s lively nightlife.
It’s always been the mix of old and new, locals and visitors, experience and invention that’s given Burnside its distinctive flavor. The same goes for our bourbons and whiskeys.
Inspired by the neighborhoods that Burnside Street passes through, we’ve come up with special expressions — West End, Goose Hollow, and Buckman. Each has its own provenance and personality, and carries a label that echoes the music posters and garage band flyers you see stuck all over the telephone poles that line this artery.
At the heart of this essential Portland corridor lies the historic Burnside Bridge. Our flagship Oregon Oaked Bourbon proudly wears the colors of its two iconic towers.
Oregon Oak Barrel-Resting in Quercus Garryana
Oregon White Oak, aka quercus garryanna, hails from our native Garry oak woodlands. This mosaic of savanna and forest stretches the entirety of the Pacific Northwest & supports more species of plants than you can shake a drink at.
Local vintners have been using this native oak since the 1970’s when French Oak supplies were limited and prices were skyrocketing. They looked to their backyards for answers and found the tree to be quite sturdy with a surprisingly high content of vanillin – the tannin that mimics vanilla bean. This naturally oaky vanilla is a bit too much for a spicy Oregon Pinot, but we thought it’d be a perfect addition to whiskey.
Every drop of Burnside is a masterful blend of different whiskeys touched in some meaningful way by Oregon White Oak. It’s a technique we pioneered in 2012: resting bourbon in Garry oak casks to infuse a bit of Pacific Northwest terroir into Southern Bourbon. And it worked. Sensationally well.
Since our first experiments we’ve gone back to the well again and again — seeking more oak, new or used. Luckily, when you make whiskey you make friends and we’ve been fortunate to work with the good folks at Re-Wine and Oregon Barrel Works to keep our aging program growing. As a result, we never have to use adjuncts such as chips or staves. Only whole, 60-gallon barrels, built by hand using old-world techniques.
We remain happily devoted to the small-batch, painstakingly-sourced philosophy that makes the Portland craft community such a pleasure to be part of.
Meet Our Team Burnside Whiskey is proudly produced in Portland, Oregon.
Developed under the direction of Eastside Distilling's award-winning Master Distiller & Blender Mel Heim, we make sure that every expression of Burnside Whiskey is held up to her exacting standards.
We’re dedicated to sourcing the best ingredients available to produce Burnside Whiskey. This standard doesn’t just apply to the premium raw spirits we bring in, it also applies to the team we’ve built to curate our blending, resting, and hand bottling program. Understanding how each element plays together is essential to creating a memorable spirit. We like to believe that Burnside Whiskey tastes as great as it does because of the care our team puts into it.
Mel developed each blend as a grand exploration into the various qualities of Quercus Garryana. Expanding on our initial experiment in 2012, Mel made it her mission to turn the Burnside program into a one-of-a-kind oak study. Our blends are all distinctive from one another, and the treatment of oak is equally specific. Each expression of Burnside Whiskey is the result of a deep dive into how different levels of toasted and charred Oregon Oak interact with whiskey – we think you’ll love each and every one. Find your Burnside.