Review: William Grant's Fistful of Bourbon Is a Young Whiskey With Serious Character
Can a blend of five straight bourbons pack a real punch?
What we’re drinking: Fistful of Bourbon
Where it’s from: William Grant & Sons, a 130-year old, family-owned business better known for Scotch brands like Glenfiddich and The Balvenie (as well as Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry rum, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey, etc.). This is the company’s first in-house American whiskey, not counting its acquisition of New York’s Hudson Whiskey.
Why we’re drinking this: “There’s not a lot of blended American whiskey besides High West,” explains FOB’s National Brand Ambassador Anthony Bohlinger. “Each whiskey we use has a different character, mashbill, toast, char and flavor profile.”
Fistful is a blend of five straight American bourbons (five fingers … fist … you get it) aged at least two years, as overseen by William Grant & Sons Master Blender Brian Kinsman (2017 ISC Master Distiller of the Year) and Kelsey McKechnie, William Grant & Sons Whisk(e)y Blender.
After a small launch in Texas in 2018, the whiskey began a rollout nationally this past March. In its very brief history, the whiskey’s already won a Double Gold at the 2019 International Spirits Challenge. Bohlinger calls the design of the bottle “Western saloon,” and it does seem to evoke a Clint Eastwood/spaghetti western persona. The question is, can such a young whiskey bring the heat?
How it tastes: Even at 90 proof, Fistful is surprisingly approachable. You can tell that not a lot of rye is in the final blend, as its influences seem to be heavy on the corn and a little less so on the wheat. Molasses and caramel dominate the nose, while a nutty, caramel corn taste takes hold on the palate. A slight, pleasant oiliness in the mouth lingers after a few sips.
Overall, Fistful is more complex than your average youthful bourbon, although I’d love to see what this five-part marriage is like with a few more years. Given its ridiculously affordable price point, I’d suggest FOB as a good starter bourbon for your home bar, as it feels versatile and bold enough to anchor your cocktails — try it in a Gold Rush, as the bourbon’s character won’t get lost with the honey syrup and lemon. It’s also an ideal beer-and-a-shot complement.
Not a universe changer, but it leaves a mark.
Fun fact: Perhaps bored during lockdown, Bohlinger’s Instagram account is full of ’90s car ad parodies, but for Fistful. It’s a good watch when you’ve had a few.
Where you can get it: It’s available for $21-$35 via Drizly.