Eastside Distilling's newly reinvented whiskey and bourbon has been aged in a special oak you can only find on the west side of the Cascade Range, primarily in the Willamette Valley.
Despite what you may have heard, Burnside Street is not named after Ambrose Burnside. The Union General with legendary mutton-chops had no connection to our then-nascent riverport. Burnside Street is actually named after some dude named David Burnside. That's why Eastside Distilling is changing their beloved Burnside Bourbon—and the sepia-toned photo of General Burnside on its label—to make it all about Portland and the rare Oregon oak.
Beginning this fall, three of Eastside's whiskeys will see their bottles remodeled. These changes won't be subtle. Civil War imagery is biting the dust in the alcohol industry, as well as in parks across the country.
The new Burnside Oregon Oaked Bourbon will have a label that drops old man Burn, opting instead for a vintage chic. The new colors will be a teal and red reminiscent of the art deco towers on the Burnside Bridge. Likewise, you might recognize some local geography in Burnside's Goose Hollow RSV Bourbon and its West End Blend. That curly-tailed "R" on the label is pulled straight from the Roseland Theater sign.
These changes are a continuation of Eastside Distilling's dedication to making small batch, hand-crafted spirits with true local flavor. Inspired by Oregon's original winemakers in the 70s, Eastside Distilling has utilized barrels of Quercus Garryana —more commonly known as Oregon Oak— to finish whiskey since 2012. And now all Eastside's whiskey will receive this special touch.
Our native oak can only be found in a few places in the world. The Willamette Valley is one of them, which is why Southeast Portland distillery might just have the largest collection of Oregon oak casks of any distillery today. Quercus Garryana is soft, white oak containing unique tannins, including an unusually high amount of vanillin. The Garryana aging lends a smoother finish to Eastside's blended bourbon. These six new small batch whiskeys will each be a different expression of this essentially Oregon flavor.
Eastside doesn't view this as innovation so much as dedication to, sorry for the pun, its roots. Burnside bourbon is all about pride in one's place. Prize winning Bourbon made for Portlanders—and, well, anyone with a discerning palate—from the wood the spirit is barreled in, right down to the label.