Another brainchild from the geniuses behind Master of Malt, That Boutique-y Whisky Company (hereafter referred to as Boutique-y) is an independent bottler that sources and bottles whiskies from distilleries all over the world. Known for their unusual and interesting offerings (gin that’s ingredients have been to space anyone?) each bottle also sports an informative graphic-novel-style label that gives the drinker everything they need to know about the whiskey, gin, or otherwise, through the use of clever references, puns, and industry in-jokes. When it comes to their range of whiskies the Boutique-y Whisky company have released everything from single barrel offerings, in-house blends, rare whiskies of extraordinary age and provenance, and even some spirits too young to call whiskey from craft, mid-, and large-scale distilleries the world over.
Today I’m taking a look at this Batch 1 Bourbon Whiskey that was released in December 2018 and consists of a 24 year old bourbon. Bottled at 96 proof (48% ABV) the only clues we have as to the source are contained in the cryptic label below. This whiskey was obviously sourced under a Non-Disclosure Agreement so they haven’t made the answer an easy one to figure out, and I for one can’t make heads or tails of what the source is from the information included so let’s get to the important part – the review.
Name: Bourbon Whiskey #1
Age: 24 years old
Proof: 96 Proof (48% ABV)
Type: Bourbon Whiskey
Mashbill: Not disclosed
Producer: Sourced by That Boutique-y Whisky Co. from an unnamed distillery
Nose: The nose opens smoky and spicy, followed by notes of rich deep butterscotch, earthy white pepper, herbaceous charred oak, sweet red fruit, warm baking spices, and bitter cacao.
Palate: The palate follows with a thick buttery mouthfeel, before notes of deep caramel, luscious red fruit, a hint of orange peel, a dash of barrel smoke, faint baking spices, earthy nuts, and dark chocolate emerge to tie it all together. There’s also a faint but consistent hint of black pepper spice on the palate that reveals itself without dominating.
Finish: The finish is long and warming, opening first with deep caramel, before red fruit, charred oak spice and barrel smoke wash through leaving an aftertaste of charred oak, burnt caramel, dark chocolate, and herbaceous dill.
This is a fantastic bourbon. Honestly, I expected it to be oak-heavy with intense old barrel flavours but instead was pleasantly surprised by how vibrant, complex, and well balanced it was throughout – and with more kick than its 96 proof would lead you to believe. From nose to finish it’s packed with deep caramel, there’s a kick of dry rye and oak spice, it’s dripping with red and dark fruit like cherries, cranberries, strawberries etc., and has a decent helping of dark chocolate in the back also. The influence of the oak is still present, however, instead of dominating the entire whiskey it adds spice and barrel smoke to support and round out the other flavours. Another thing I really like about this bourbon is the mouth feel. Whereas I would usually expect a thinner mouth feel around 96 proof this whiskey is as thick and buttery as something that’s bottled at cask strength. This works strongly in this bourbon’s favour because it adds a smooth buttery mouth feel that carries the flavours exceptionally well.
The biggest mystery with this bourbon is its source and I honestly can’t pinpoint a specific distillery from tasting alone. To me it tastes like a high-rye bourbon, based on the hefty kick of earthy black pepper spice throughout, but that’s where the trail runs cold for me. It could be Heaven Hill, Four Roses, Beam, Buffalo Trace, hell it could be any distillery that’s been around long enough to have 24 year old bourbon stock. Also, remember that because this is not a US release it doesn’t have to follow any US labelling laws and as such what I have here is a true mystery – kind of like the Sasquatch, Alien, and Area 51 references on the label seem to suggest.
In my opinion, Boutique-y really knocked it out of the park with the quality of this release. Instead of being just another money-grab for poor quality super-aged bourbon it is clear they have not only found some really old bourbon, (Honestly, where did they find enough to fill 8000+ 50cl bottles with?!), but it’s also really good. Well-aged quality releases like this have become an increasing rarity as distilleries hold on to any decent stocks they have for their own limited releases, so to see something like this enter the market at what’s a reasonable price (for today’s super-aged bourbon market) is really surprising. Boutique-y have really shown me that they can achieve incredible things when they source whiskey for their releases and they have a life-long convert and fan of their whiskies as a result.
Try or Buy?
This is a whiskey with a very expensive RRP (£199.95) for a bourbon with no other information other than it’s age, Boutique-y batch number, and its ABV. As such, I’d highly recommend you try it before you buy it to be sure that it’s the bourbon for you. Luckily Boutique-y have made this a possibility at a much more reasonable price via some 3cl Drinks by the Dram samples that are being sold on the Master of Malt website. If, however, you don’t want to wait and the price isn’t going to stop you then go ahead and pick one up, you won’t regret it!
If any of you lovely people think you know where this was sourced from the information given on the label I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you arrived at them. Shoot me an email with your thoughts so I can finally sleep peacefully again.