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Southern Cross Bourbon Review

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I’m going to start right up front by saying I’m not a bourbon reviewer. I know what I like, but generally speaking, I ain’t got the words. And this little “review” probably isn’t going to make a bourbon reviewer out of me. I was so impressed with Southern Cross High Proof Bourbon Whiskey that I felt compelled to write about it, however. I reached out to a brand representative who offered to send me a bottle for review and I jumped at the opportunity, so this is my Southern Cross Bourbon review.

Full Disclosure

Please don’t skip this part! The full-disclosure statement in this article is going to run a little longer than typical. As it turns out, I am much more affiliated with Crux Distillery than I imagined when I endeavored to write this review. This idea began when my friend Nick Coffman came to visit in July and brought me a bottle. He didn’t tell me much of anything about it, just gave it to me as a host gift. The bottle sat on the shelf for a while, but once I opened it I realized it was something special. The bourbon in the bottle started disappearing…then disappeared.

I contacted Crux Distilling and expressed my desire to write a review. Within a few days a bottle was on my doorstep, and I got busy enjoying this exceptionally good bourbon. After I began writing, I took a look at the website. The CEO is Danny Draher, one of the “MARSOC Three” about which Nick Coffman (yep, the one and the same) wrote an article here a couple years ago. Danny’s wife is the chief marketing officer, and also the widow of a former student and friend of mine, Liam Flynn. Liam was killed in a helicopter crash in 2015. And, wouldn’t you know it? When I visited Crux’s “Who We Are” page, Nick’s own face was staring back at me as the IT director (unpaid). He hadn’t mentioned that when he shared this bourbon with me.

Importantly, I learned most of this after I asked to review this bourbon. It’s important that I point out that I sought out this review before I had all the information. I have no financial interest in Southern Cross Bourbon, make nothing from its sales, and don’t get any special treatment from Crux Distilling. Still, I understand if you’re distrustful of the close relationship I have with the company, but I would ask that you trust that the thoughts presented here are mine and mine alone, as always.

Crux Distilling

As I’ve mentioned, my first bottle of Southern Cross was a gift. My friend Nick came to stay for the weekend and brought the bottle as a host gift. I set it aside and didn’t think much of it. There are a lot of “story brand” bourbons out there – bottles that make sales based on a story – real or contrived – rather than on the merits of the bourbon itself. I sort of expected this to be one of those whiskies. Once I opened it, a different story emerged. I started finding my glass empty and wanting more.

Southern Cross Bourbon (SCB) is produced by Crux Distilling, with the tagline, “May you find your way.” There’s a pretty strong, natural tie-in there for me. First, “crux” refers to the constellation known as the Southern Cross. This constellation is the southern-hemisphere equivalent of Polaris, an unmoving navigational beacon. Not only do I love maps, charts, navigation, et. al., the Southern Cross is also featured on many Marine Unit logos, including the Marine Raiders’ logo.

But that’s not all. Crux Distilling began as a joint venture between three people. One, the aforementioned Danny Draher, was a Force Recon Marine and MARSOC Raider. Allan is a former Marine 0311 and retired firefighter/paramedic, obviously another profession with which I can strongly relate. The third is Holly, an ER nurse. This is an incredibly relatable brand for me. To be honest though, these facts didn’t prime me to think this bourbon was going to be that good. Again, I kind of expected the story to be the key selling point of mediocre booze. Boy was I wrong.

Southern Cross Bourbon Review

And now we come to the actual bourbon. The label ticks a lot of boxes for me. First, this is 100-proof (50% ABV), which is right in my wheelhouse, strength-wise. Second, though there is no age statement on the bottle (something they should fix, in my opinion), Crux’s website says SCB is aged for a very respectable five years. Third, Southern Cross has a very high-wheat mashbill, a whopping 45% (along with 51% corn and 4% barley). I am a big fan of wheated bourbon (some of my favorites being Maker’s Mark 46 and Weller Special Reserve). I’ll be honest; I downed the first bottle without paying too much attention to. I just knew that I really liked it and wanted more when the bottle was empty.

When I opened the second bottle I wasn’t blown away. I seemed to get some strong botanical notes. I corked it and a few days later circled back. The opportunity to breathe gave this bourbon a second wind; it was terrific a few days after being opened. I remembered what I liked so much about that first bottle. Pouring a glass I get a nice, medium-amber color and a swirl reveals long, well-defined legs. Who doesn’t like long, well-defined legs?

A few days after opening, all the alcohol punch is gone from the nose, leaving behind graham cracker and mildly fruity notes. This bourbon is smooth and sweet, no doubt owing to its very high-wheat mashbill. Again, I’m not a professional bourbon taster but I get sweetness, a bit of summer fruit, and elusive hints of vanilla and caramel. The finish is sweet, warm, and lingering, and while not the most complex bourbon I’ve ever tasted, it always leaves me wanting more.

Closing Thoughts

My first bottle of Southern Cross Bourbon was a gift. The second was sent to me for this review. The third, already sitting on my bar, was purchased, by me, at full price. Southern Cross is one of my new go-to bottles. I’m not a connoisseur, but I do enjoy some good bourbon and have some nice bottles. SCB is up there with the best of them, and that’s no lie. Southern Cross Bourbon is available in the North Carolina and Washington, D.C. ABC systems, and is available for online purchase in 42 states.

The only downside is the price. Southern Cross Bourbon has a suggested retail price of $110. Frankly, I think that’s going to be a tough price-point for a small, independent distillery to break into, especially one that doesn’t do in-house distilling. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time. Widow Jane is one of my all-time favorite bourbons, and it has a similar lineage and isn’t far off price-point. And the bottom line is, it’s hard to argue with the stuff in the bottle; it’s damn delicious.

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