We're back in American whiskey territory for this latest blog post. It's still a world I have so much to explore - just a case of too much whisk(ey) and not enough livers.
Opened and poured for this review are two expressions from Lux Row Distillers - Ezra Brooks 99 and Rebel 100 - as part of the Whisky Flash Blog organised by The Whisky Wire.
Luxco, the company, has been in business for many years but it only opened its own distillery in 2018 - in Bardstown - to be able to produce its own spirit to meet the demand for its products, rather than relying on third party distillers to distill on their behalf.
One of those products is Ezra Brooks 99: a Kentucky straight bourbon bottled at 49.5% (hence the '99' - it's 99 proof). The mashbill consists of 78% corn, 10% rye and 12% malted barley and this whiskey has been charcoal filtered. However, this charcoal filtering takes place after maturation. This is unlike the Lincoln County process for Tennessee whiskey where the new make spirit is filtered using sugar maple charcoal prior to being filled into the cask.
This retails for around the £35 mark although I've not yet been able to find this on sale at the usual UK retailers - I'll update this post when I do. So, here are my thoughts:
Nose: initial notes of popcorn followed by crème brûlée and toffee fudge; there's a hint of peanut butter in the background together with notes of pumpernickel; this is quite light and easy going on the nose.
Palate: Butterkist popcorn mixed with Reese's Pieces; the crème brûlée notes make an appearance after a while and there's a blast of fresh ginger and cinnamon before the finish; there's a dark chocolate note into the finish with slight hints of marzipan and black cherry.
Overall: this is one of the most accessible bourbons I've had; it's quite light and not overly complex but a pleasing drink nonetheless.
Second up is Rebel 100; also a Kentucky straight bourbon bottled at the only slightly stronger abv of 50%. This is a wheated bourbon with a mashbill of 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. Having tried Rebel Yell before, bottled at 40%, it'll be interesting to see how this step up in abv plays out. Here we go...
Nose: initial note of green tea; this noses as quite dry - like stewed tea; after a while, sweeter notes emerge: popcorn, apple sauce, Golden Syrup;
Palate: sweeter on the palate than initially expected; then a sudden burst of spice: fresh ginger, cloves, hint of chilli; dark fruit flavours emerge after a while with notes of blackcurrant jam and black cherry yoghurt; this is more complex than the previous dram.
Overall: dialling this up a notch or two to 50% works very well.
Two interesting bourbons indeed. And for the price, they're both great value. My personal preference would be the Rebel 100; it just seems to have a wee bit more oomph and some added complexitiy about it.
Thanks to Steve at The Whisky Wire for the chance to expore these two whiskeys.
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