A beguiling blend of straight bourbon whiskeys (5, 6, 7 and 10-year-old barrels) distilled and aged in TN, KY and IN, and bottled at cask strength (115.34 proof). Somehow, you’ll get everything from cherry to ginger to wasabi to brown butter, with a hint of grassiness. A typically exceptional release from a whiskey brand that’s redefined the art of blending.
Of the first two releases, we gravitated toward Jacob’s Well (108 proof), a blend of two ultra-aged expressions: one 16-year-old traditional bourbon and one 15-year-old high-rye bourbon. If you like extra-aged bourbons with a lot of wood character and the right amount of rye spice, this is excellent.
This is the fourth bottle in the distillery’s 117 Series (launched last year) — this one in particular honors the 7th anniversary of the fire on Whiskey Row that nearly destroyed the historic Louisville block. The bourbon comes from barrels that the Louisville Fire Department chose in 2020. There’s an unrelated bit of heat on this release, which nicely balances caramel, oak, coconut and dark fruits.
Wheel Horse whiskeys are distilled at the Green River Distillery (Owensboro Distilling Co.) in Owensboro, KY, aka the westernmost stop along the famed Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Besides racking up accolades, Wheel Horse also wins on price (roughly $35/bottle). Their 101-proof bourbon, with a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley, might only be aged 3-4 years, but it offers a nice mix of tropical, oak and caramel notes, with plenty of rye and wood spice (and it’s unique almost ginger-like on the finish).
The distillery’s Wood Finishing Series is a series of limited-edition bottles that emphasize various elements in the bourbon production process. BRT-01 focuses on barrel rotation within the distillery’s warehouses, with an emphasis on the flavor profiles found at the warmer top of the rickhouse — a lot of oak, plus notes of caramel popcorn, dark fruit, a hint of anise and a toasty warm finish.
While sweet up front, this bourbon has a balanced and rich mouthfeel and just enough of a spicy kick from the rye to leave an impression, but not overpower the exceptional balance at work here.
Ronnie’s Batch features an age statement of six years, 11 months and 22 days. Coming in at 124.3 proof, it’s dark amber in color. Baking spices, caramel and vanilla dominate, though a little dark fruit sneaks in at the finish, particularly if you add a drop or two of water. Overall, nice and burly…and not for the everyday drinker.
You’ll find graham cracker and orange on the nose, with pecan pie, cinnamon, caramel and even a bit of raspberry jam on the palate. The oak spice really shines through on the finish. Overall, this has a wonderfully round and creamy texture.
The one threadline throughout the Aged at Sea series is a note of “salty caramel popcorn” (in flavor, nose and mouthfeel), and that’s thankfully still present here. But there is also an enhanced minerality at play. The rye in the mashbill is a bit more tempered, and you’ll pick up notes of leather and tobacco.
Bottled at 109 proof, you’ll get a lot of vanilla and butterscotch on the nose, while the palette brings out cloves, apricot, cocoa, berries and brown sugar. It’s rich and almost dessert-like in mouthfeel, while still balanced and complex enough to let in other flavors; I got more oak, cinnamon and even a hint of mint on subsequent sips.
Bonded uses the same mashbill of Old No. 7 — it’s 80% corn, 12% malted barley and 8% rye, but now at 100 proof. The barrels were selected with an emphasis on whiskey that featured darker, deeper color; this leads to an expression that’s more oak-forward and spicier (both in a cinnamon/baking spices kind of way, but also with the rye standing out more than usual) than the Jack Daniel’s flagship whiskey.
Here, the whiskey is taken from barrels of a recently decommissioned rickhouse that was originally built in 1946. The end result is a non-chill filtered bourbon aged for over 10 years and bottled at 112.4 barrel proof, with thick, rich notes of toffee, coconut and vanilla, rounded out by a long, silky finish.