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THE BOURBON RESOURCE, MAY 2022
An Elijah Craig change, a big purchase, Blood Oath Pact 9 review, Trivia!
THE BIG NEWS
Heaven Hill has announced its very popular Elijah Craig Barrel-Proof series will contain a varying age statement. The ECBP series had been bottled at 12 years, but this month’s release of the B523 will instead be 11.5 years. ECBP will also now be barreled in small batches, meaning there could be slight taste variations between bottles. It’s an interesting move, but one that could result in some interesting differences between releases. The B523 bottles at 124.2 proof. My big worry --- the small batch releases will cut down on those 130-plus proof bottles that are so rich and flavorful. My 138.2 ECBP C919, released in 2019, remains in my top five bourbons. Lets hope the new blending rules don’t kill the highest of the high proof.
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Marianne Eaves, Kentucky's first female Master Distiller, has launched “Forbidden,” a 5-year-old bourbon bottled at 95.2 proof, according to a press release. The release says Eaves has been working on Forbidden for a decade and settled on a blend of white corn, white winter wheat, and malted barley. The limited-release bourbon, available in Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, retails for $129.
LuxCo, the subsidiary of the giant distiller MGP has agreed to pay $105 million for Penelope Bourbon, according to a press release. Hmmmm. Penelope bottles bourbon, including MGP products, but doesn’t distill whiskey. This makes complete sense from a market share, distribution, and competition standpoint. The biggest industry players have embarked on an acquisition spree since the thirst for bourbon shows no signs of slowing down. (Campari just purchased Wilderness Trail, for example).
Ezra Brooks will release, this month, two new expressions. EB’s 99-proof rye whiskey has hints of “chocolate, leather, vanilla, and spicy grains, balanced by slightly sweet and oaky tones,” according to the tasting notes. This piece of info caught my eye --- it’s just 51% rye and retails for just $21.99. EB will also release a bourbon cream that’s bottled at 33 proof, one of the highest proofs in the bourbon cream category, according to a press release.
Buffalo Trace has released its newest experimental whiskey, a Peated Bourbon that provides a smoky characteristic. The bourbon, released in 375ML bottles, retails for $46.99. I don’t have any of the BT experimentals because I haven’t found one (yet) that I’m enamored by. Maybe this one will do the trick.
Thank you, but …
I’ve had something weird happen. A few readers have sent me pledges if I ever want to charge for this newsletter. I find it (stunningly) flattering that people want to put their hard-earned money toward a small once-a-month newsletter. As I’ve told everyone, I will never --- ever --- accept one penny from a reader for this newsletter. If you want to support me, you can do what you already do. Comment on the newsletter. Talk about your favorite bourbon and the ones you didn’t like. Most importantly, encourage your friend to subscribe by hitting the button below.
I’m planning a new reader interaction effort with a feature called Thumbs Down. It would be reader comments on bourbons they’ve tried and regret they did. For example, I paid $55 for a bottle of Pinhook High Proof Bourbon and while some people swear by the stuff, it’s not for me. So, starting this month, you can send a comment here with the following information:
Why you were excited about it
Why it fell short of your expectations?
The responses don’t have to be long. At a minimum, I’ll include the comments in the coming newsletters. If I get enough responses, I’ll devote a summer newsletter to this subject.
Blood Oath Pact 9
Mash bill: 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley
Note: LuxCo provided a sample of the Blood Oath Pact 9 for review purposes without any special considerations.
Since 2015, Blood Oath has produced a limited-release (51,000 bottles) bourbon from Lux Row Master Distiller John Rempe. All contain different blends, aged in different types of barrels.
Blood Oath Pact 9 contains “extra aged” whiskeys including 7, 12, and 16-year ryed bourbons finished in Oloroso Sherry casks in southwest Spain. The crimson label sets itself apart from the other releases, all of which have colors.
Looking at the characteristics, I had no idea what to expect. Minimal spice? Sweet, followed by burn? A blend of heat and cherry? Let’s see.
THE NOSE: Pepper, sugar, dark fruit, maple
THE PALATE: Sherry, brown sugar, figs, pepper, peppermint
THE FINISH: Long, with a more pronounced pepper and spice finish
OVERALL: Pact 9’s flavors are far more intense than 7 and 8, which will make an interesting comparison when the 7-8-9 trilogy case comes out next year (do I have to wait that long?) Pact 8, aged in Calvados casks, had distinct hints of apple and cinnamon Pact 7, aged in a Sauternes cask, was much softer, with sweet berries and oak.
Pact 9 has amazing contrast, from pronounced sweet cherry up front that’s balanced by that rye spice. It has a long, deep finish with lingering flavors that coat your mouth. The price, $129, has become standard for premium bourbons.
I don’t think I’d drop $250 on a bottle, which is what it will cost you on the secondary. I’d rather spend the money on the rare trilogy, in which LuxCo sets aside 1,400 bottles of each release. I suspect will be in the $900 range since the 4-5-6 trilogy cost $799.
Something new! Answer the question and I’ll reveal the answer in June, and post another question.
The top-selling whiskies in the world
We often use bourbon and whiskey as synonyms in the United States, but there’s a whole lot of whiskies being produced elsewhere. If someone asked me to name the top-selling whiskey producer on the planet, I would have immediately blurted out Ireland.
And I would have been wrong.
Our friends at Bourbon Obsessed looked at the top-selling whiskies in the world. The top four all come from India. I never would have guessed. Bourbon Obsessed looked at the top 12 sellers, which lists just one from Ireland, two each from Scotland and the USA, and seven from India. Seven. It’s a fascinating read and one worth your time.
THIS MONTH’S COCKTAIL:
I do like the combination of apples and bourbon, so this caught my eye. This recipe is enough for two
2 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoon hot water
3 ½ oz. bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons apple butter (it’s easy to find in a store)
Dissolve the brown sugar in hot water in a cocktail shaker and let it cool. Add all the other ingredients, skake well, and strain over ice.
That’s it for this month! If you’re an NBA fan, look at the Knicks Film School newsletter, the smartest commentary, and all things the New York Knicks and NBA basketball.
Ray Marcano writes and publishes the Bourbon Resource monthly. He’s a bourbon lover and long-time journalist who has worked for some of the country’s largest media brands. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror, and a Fulbright fellow.