Thanks to /u/Saba007 for sharing this one with us.
There seems to be quite a bit of hullabaloo about Kentucky Owl. It never really hit us here in Ontario, as the LCBO’s tendency to pile red tape on being able to sell things sometimes means that they don’t hit the largest alcohol seller in North America.
So when offered Kentucky Owl Rye Batch #1, I had the typical reaction: Owl’s are cool. I like rye.
What I’m missing is each Kentucky Owl is a collection of barrels blended and brought to proof by Dixon Dedman (coolest superhero name ever). They source the whiskey. And took off due to the Grey Market doing what they do best, amping up the price.
Now owned by Stoli Group, eventually they may have a distillery. Maybe. And it may cost $150 million dollars. And it may end up in Bardstown. I don’t know for certain yet.
The rye also differed from previous offerings of Kentucky Owl in that it was released in 25 markets instead of just Kentucky. Because why just support the Kentucky flippers.
As far as where it’s sourced from, the label has “Kentucky Straight Whiskey”, so it’s not from MGP or Alberta, which are the main sources of rye. It could be Strong or Barton, or Wild Turkey, or Brown-Forman, or Heaven Hill, or Beam, or Buffalo Trace. And on that, since I’m horrible at guessing, we’ll leave it there.
But how does it taste? I mean, the bottle looks great, and will probably sit on many a shelf never being opened, but how does that brown stuff inside taste? Let’s find out, shall we?
Price: $130 USD, though not available in Canada
Age: 11 years
Colour: 7.5YR 6/10
Nose: Dill, cereal, butter, grape candy
Some dill, some cereal, and some butter. The initial dill isn’t that big of a surprise. The Lactobacillus acidophilus got in here, hard. Does that mean it’s automatically MGP? No, because that organism shows up where it wants.
Nice cereal and butter notes. Lovely grape candy shows up with some water, breaking some of the monotony. So far it’s not blowing me away, though it’s nice to nose.
Taste: Black currant, caramel, cereal, mineral, ginger
Boom, almost as though the whiskey knows I thought poorly about it. Strong notes throughout. Big black currant note up front, lots of spice, and just the right amount of mineral.
It’s odd: Mineral usually is followed by fruit, however here it just shows up and sits around. Not like a fat guy on a bus who takes up three seats. No, more like it fits in.
Finish: Cinnamon, butter, cereal, quince, grapefruit, cocoa
Long finish. Huge long finish. Lovely butter, cereal, and then…. floral/fruit? Big fruit. Like the mineral before that was suppose to follow up with stone fruit just had a pause going.
I love this finish. Seriously. The floral has grown, the spice is there, the earth is well developed and sweet, and has some lovely citrus as well. It makes you keep coming back to it. Not in that alcoholic way. In that flavourful, obese causing way.
Conclusion: This will fool you. Simply put, I didn’t buy into the hype originally. I heard about another sourced bourbon and went “Next”. Heard it was selling for a lot and thought “Yup, just idiots overpricing things.”
I’d say taters however I just heard that term lately.
Then I tried the rye. I can’t speak to the seven different bourbons before it. I can say the rye is worth it. Restricted nose that eventually is quite unique. Then a big blast of balanced, tart taste with just the right amount of sweet and ginger.
Then a finish that made me finish it, and want to finish it twice. Honestly, a lot of big flavours that work beautifully mixed together. There’s people who love citrus or floral aspects of rye, or spice, and this hits a lot of those notes.
Try it. Hunt it. This is tasty. I hope they can come close to figuring out the whiskey over the years, because they’ve started strong.
Bourbon review #207, Kentucky review #129, Whiskey Network review #1257