Penelope Barrel Strength Bourbon (Batch #5) Review

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Founded in 2018 in New Jersey, Penelope Bourbon is the award-winning brainchild of entrepreneurs and lifelong friends Mike Paladini and Danny Polise. Named after Mike’s daughter, the first-time fathers wanted to produce a bourbon that catered to the bourbon novice, aswell as the seasoned enthusiast, and everyone in between. Sourcing stocks from MGP’s distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Penelope is a blend of three different bourbon mashbills that are aged separately before being dumped, blended, and bottled as either 80 proof or barrel proof four grain bourbon. These bourbon mashbills are MGP’s 99% corn bourbon, their 21% rye bourbon, and their 45% wheat bourbon all respectively aged between 3 and 4 years and blended for a final mashbill of 75% corn, 15% wheat, 7% rye, and 3% malted barley. The whiskies were aged in standard char #4 barrels with char #2 heads.

Albeit a new brand on the bourbon scene, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Penelope Bourbon. Penelope hit the ground running and their name has spread far and wide with media outlets, reviewers, and consumers singing the praises of their bourbon. Marketed towards a wide spread of consumers, their whiskey is blended to be approachable, their branding and labels are stylish and modern, their website champions their small team and various suppliers, and they’ve even gone as far as to provide the nutritional breakdown of their flagship 80 proof bottling (under 100 calories per standard drink) on their website. Aswell as this, their operation is small, they’re open and honest about their whiskey’s source and facts, and again their packaging looks great (as confirmed by my wife and mother in law) – what’s not to like?

Today I’ll be taking a look at batch #5 of their barrel proof bourbon. According to Penelope their barrel proof offering “pushes the boundaries of our signature four grain balanced flavor profile. Batch 5 is blended from three bourbon mash bills aged 3 – 4 years in new American oak barrels and completely uncut and non chill-filtered. Each barrel was hand selected and blended into a single batch in order to create this unique offering.”

Vital Stats:

Name: Penelope Bourbon Barrel Strength (Batch #5)
Age: Blend of whiskies aged 3 -4 years
Proof: 116 Proof (58% ABV)
Type: Blend of straight bourbon whiskies
Mashbill: 75% corn, 15% wheat, 7% rye, and 3% malted barley
Producer: Penelope Bourbon (sourced from MGP Indiana)
Glassware: Glencairn


Nose: The nose opens with caramel, corn, thick vanilla, baking spices, and sweet red fruit alongside black pepper rye, dry wheat, ethanol, and herbaceous oak with a hint of cloves.

Palate: The palate opens with sweet caramel syrup, followed by lush red fruit, hints of young wheat, and white pepper rye which builds into a prolonged kick of spice on the mid-palate. As the spice fades creamy corn, earthy toasted nuts, barrel spices, and thick honey emerge, gaining a herbaceous edge as you continue to chew.

Finish: The finish is warming with lingering spice before faint fruit, toasted oak, baking spices, and young grains emerge. As it moves into the aftertaste oak tannins become more apparent alongside warm spices.


This whiskey is delicious and sits in a very interesting place. On one side, it shows its youth through sweet yet fading grain notes, whilst on the other, it shows the promising beginnings of maturity with complexity and delicious notes of red fruit, earthy baking spices, and dark barrel spices. Taken together, the two sides produce a complex balancing act that is both full of flavour and complex nuances as it progresses across the palate. There’s also a decent kick of spice on the mid-palate, however, when you consider the proof and the influence of the grain this isn’t as much an issue when you sip this with consideration, and the overall drinking experience is quite enjoyable. Despite being bottled at barrel proof, there’s very little alcohol burn which is probably in part to the oiliness of the corn bourbon blended in and instead of burning your palate the proof and oiliness work together to pack the spicy punch behind the other flavours. With a few drops of water, honey and young toasted oak become more apparent on the nose, the palate becomes more grain-forward with corn taking the lead alongside powdered sugar and the heat on the mid-palate falls away slightly.

Although I have limited experience of four grain bourbon I know when there are too many grain notes rushing in at the same time and throwing off the balance and overall enjoyability of a whiskey. In this case, this doesn’t happen and instead you transition across the various grain influences towards the oak notes at the end, with the corn bringing syrupy caramel notes and thick vanilla, the wheat bringing lush red fruit, and the rye bringing a peppery edge that builds on the palate as you keep sipping. Altogether they come together to create a bourbon that is quite enjoyable and one I keep finding myself coming back to.

As a brand, Penelope is one I will definitely be keeping up with as their whiskey continues to mature and their blends get older over time. At the moment what they have is an award-winning and enjoyable barrel proof bourbon that speaks well for not only for their skills in blending but also of the quality of the whiskey they’ve sourced. Sipping this it’s clear to see why the brand has become an overnight success with people in the know across the bourbon world.

Try or Buy?

This is so close to being incredible and well worth the spend especially if you’re already a fan and you’re interested in tasting how their stocks have matured since the first batch. If you’re not already a fan but this sounds like something you’d like, I’d highly recommend buying a bottle because it is a very good barrel proof bourbon.


Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

Like you I’m a whiskey enthusiast. I don’t earn any money from distilleries, their parent companies, or their subsidiaries for my reviews. If you like what you’ve read and want to support this page then why not buy me a dram?


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