Missouri Tigers celebrate lore of Six Columns with bourbon collaboration

Six Columns Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Photo via J.Rieger and Co.
Six Columns Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Photo via J.Rieger and Co. /

The Missouri Tigers and J. Rieger have collaborated to produce Six Columns Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a means to celebrate the strong traditions of one of America’s top universities.

The University of Missouri is regarded as one of America’s top schools and produces fiercely competitive athletic teams. Nestled in the heart of America at Columbia, Missouri, it’s a school that embodies the spirit of a nation.

A place that symbolizes the resilience and strength of the university and its students is known as the Six Columns. This monument stands tall at the University of Missouri campus and has become an emblem of the school. From their official site:

"Built with local limestone, the six Ionic-style columns on Francis Quadrangle originally supported Mizzou’s first campus building — Academic Hall. After a fire destroyed Academic Hall in 1892, the Columns were all that remained. Now, they are a testament to our shared history and a symbol of our collective strength. They are a place to read a book in warm weather or a backdrop for graduation photos. They support traditions such as Tiger Walk and showcase our core values banners. Whether you are seeing them for the first time or the thousandth time, the Columns mean you are home."

It was with this iconic symbol in mind that J. Rieger Co. began to create a whiskey that reflected those ideas and that would become something people who love the Missouri Tigers would be proud to have in their homes and share.

From the J. Rieger Co. press release on the bourbon:

"With this release, J. Rieger & Co. pays tribute to the heritage and culture that define the University of Missouri; as every Tiger knows, the six columns are the center of countless traditions and celebrations, and Six Columns Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be front and center, as well, at tailgates and watch parties, or at any MU occasion worthy of a toast."

We spoke to J. Rieger president, Andy Rieger, about the collaboration, creation, and challenges of making Six Columns Straight Bourbon happen.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with the University of Missouri. Our shared values of excellence, innovation, and a deep-rooted love for the great state of Missouri have brought us together for this collaboration. Six Columns Bourbon is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to see it in the hands of Tigers fans and Missourians everywhere.”

But creating this one-of-a-kind bourbon was not easy. The first obstacle was going to be changing Mizzou’s stance on allowing the school’s name and logo to appear on spirits, which took some ear-bending of notable Missouri alumni. Eventually, the community effort paid off and Missouri opened up partnering with a distiller of spirits.

“There was a Missouri alumni gala at a hotel in Kansas City,” Andy Rieger told us. “And one of our attorneys introduced me to the President of Mizzou, Mun Choi, and said ‘Mun, these guys work with KU and we don’t allow spirits at Missouri. As partners, we should change that and you need to work with J. Rieger and Co.’ and Troy just goes, ‘I love J. Rieger’, and that started a very basic relationship between the Mizzou president and myself.”

With the Missouri logo now available to be emblazoned on a bottle of fine whiskey, the next step was creating the bourbon. The perfect marriage of locally created distillates was needed to make this a special pour.

“We had to make sure we were allowing [the bourbon] to age appropriately,” Rieger said. “So you’re not just pulling it off the shelf prematurely saying this is a one-year or two-year-old bourbon and it’s just about the Tiger logo on the bottle and no one cares what’s inside. We find that offensive

At the end of the day, the fanbase has a lot of pride in what the Tiger is on. And so we had to ensure that pride is carried over so that there is no one who’s ashamed with what’s inside the bottle and people want to drink the product.”

The product itself is meticulously selected barrels of Rieger’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey between four and five years old, which are hand blended using techniques taught to Rieger’s blenders by industry legend Dave Pickerell.

Here are reviews and tasting notes for this offering from J. Rieger

Editor’s Note: The whiskeys were provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. 

J. Rieger Six Columns Straight Bourbon Description

Mash bill: 56% corn, 30% rye, 14% malted barley
ABV: 45 %
Color: Dark honey
Age: 4-5years
Bottle Size: 750 ml
Private Barrels Available: NA
MSRP: $39.99

J. Rieger Six Columns Straight Bourbon Tasting Notes

Nose: It’s quite the sweet nose that’s abundant with cherry and toasted almond, then cinnamon and candied apple making a late appearance. There’s not a lot of oak or char in the nose, which may be in part due to the younger age of the spirit.

Palate: The palate opens with bright cherry and baking spices at the front. There’s a slight burn as it moves to the mid-palate. From there the notes begin to darken a bit with coffee, leather, and a hint of oak char. The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin side but it isn’t a drying or astringent quality.

A few drops of distilled water bring out even more sweet fruitiness on the candy-like side.

Finish: The finish is on the short side and is really a continuation of the darker notes, with leather and coffee lying on the back of your tongue. Would like to have had a little more woodiness in the finish.

Conclusions: This is my second taste of a Rieger product and it makes me wish they were readily available in Georgia. A bourbon with this age statement at this price point shouldn’t taste as good as this one does. Bravo to the folks at J. Rieger for outkicking the coverage on this bourbon.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆