Before we get too far into how this stuff tastes, I would like to briefly ramble about something else given that this is the first bourbon reviewed on this site from a Non-Distiller Producer.
One thing you learn when you start getting into bourbon is that everything on that shelf of your local liquor store was made at shockingly few places. Two bourbons that have totally different names might actually from the same distillery, and a ton of them weren’t even made by the company that is printed on the label. Now, when I first started learning all of this information I felt pretty disenchanted by the industry and avoided NDP brands, but as I got more enthusiastic about american whiskey I came to the realization that good whiskey is good whiskey, and I want to drink all of that good whiskey (spoiler alert: Noah’s Mill is one of those good whiskeys). As I’m writing this I feel like I could go on about this for a while, and most of it wouldn’t apply to this review, so I’m thinking it may be fun to do a separate post on NDPs later and flesh out my thoughts a bit more. Stay tuned for that.
Anyways, Kentucky Bourbon Distillers is one of those NDPs and they operate out of the Willet Distillery. All of their products on the shelf now were distilled by someone other than them, and they won’t say who, but Heaven Hill is pretty damn close to them and many seem to think is their primary source. KBD fired up the stills at Willet in 2012 so some, if not all, of their future products will actually be distilled in-house, but not for a while. Ok, if you’re still with me, let’s get to the part where I drink things.
Company: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (KBD)
Distillery: NDP. Not disclosed (probably Heaven Hill)
Location: Bardstown, KY
Mashbill: Unknown (blend of multiple rye and wheat recipes)
Age: NAS (formerly carried a 15-year statement. Currently a blend of 4 to 20 year old bourbons)
ABV: 57.15% (114.3 proof)
Nose: The first whiff of this bourbon was pure dark cherries, and a lot of them. As I let the glass hang out and open up a bit, notes of toffee, oak, and leather started creeping in behind the fruit. The nose on this is somewhat subtle, but if you really get in there it’s more complex than you would think.
Taste: The fruit takes a back seat on the palate, which is surprisingly rich and creamy (I tried to think of a different word than “creamy”, but seriously, it’s the right word…mmmm creamy bourbon). Oak and vanilla are the most prevalent flavors here with that sweet cherry really rounding things out.
Finish: The oak is loud and clear on the finish, as is the first hint of rye spice and corn. The finish is short and falls a bit flat. There’s a weird contrast of young-bourbon corn and old-bourbon oak that doesn’t quite work. I’m left wishing it was a bit more complex and balanced like the other components of the sip.
Overall: This is a very interesting bourbon. The blend of all the different mash bills make it something I think is definitely worth a try. While the finish could be better, the complexity on the nose and palate are really nice. $50 may be a bit steep for this guy (I would like to see it in the $40 range), but given the uniqueness of the profile I have no buyer’s remorse on this one.