Rebel Yell 10 y.o. Single Barrel Bourbon Review

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The Rebel Yell brand was originally created in the late 1940’s for the world-renowned Stitzel-Weller Distilling Co. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Weller company. Initially distilled in very small batches and exclusively distributed in southern states (with Civil War-era confederate labelling to match), Rebel Yell was a private-label wheated bourbon that was bottled and given as gifts to friends and family of the Farnsleys who co-owned the company at the time. With the Civil War centennial in the 1960’s, the brand went public as a 5 y.o. 90 proof bourbon. The brand followed a colourful journey, remaining a Stitzel-Weller product from the 60’s to the 90’s, becoming a 6 y.o. bourbon  in the 70’s and 80’s and inspiring Billy Idol to write his song ‘Rebel Yell’ after he saw the Rolling Stones drinking it backstage at a concert. A year after the song was released, then-owners United Distillers dropped the proof down to 80 and started nationwide distribution of Rebel Yell. In 1992, after United Distillers moved their production to Bernheim from Stitzel-Weller, Rebel Yell began production alongside the other wheated bourbons in the United Distillery portfolio, however,  seven years later, United Distillers sold its Bernheim distillery to Heaven Hill and the various brands produced there to the highest bidders. Rebel Yell’s brand and assets were then sold to the David Sherman Corporation in St. Louis which is now Luxco.

In January 2018, Luxco started operations in their state-of-the-art Lux Row Distillers distillery. Located on a 90-acre site, the facility boasts a 18,000 square feet distillery building, 6 barrel warehouses, a tasting room, an event space, and will eventually have the capacity to produce over 7 million proof gallons a year and store 20,000 to 50,000 barrels on site. Under the watchful eye of Head Distiller John Rempe, it is envisioned that this facility will become the source for Luxco’s extensive brand portfolio as demand for their products continued to grow. Although still a sourced product from distilleries like Heaven Hill, Luxco currently produces seven Rebel Yell products including their classic Rebel Yell straight bourbon, Rebel Yell 100 proof straight bourbon, Rebel Yell 10 y.o. straight bourbon, Rebel Yell straight rye, Reel Yell straight bourbon finished in French Oak, Rebel Yell bourbon infused with ginger root, and Rebel yell bourbon infused with root beer flavourings.

First launched in September 2016, Rebel Yell 10 y.o. single barrel is an annual premium release of some of Luxco’s best wheated bourbon stocks sourced from Heaven Hill. Aged a minimum of 10 years in new charred oak barrels, the whiskey features a 20% wheat mashbill and is bottled at 100 proof as single barrel bottling that bears the date the whiskey was barreled and the barrel number it comes from.

Today I’ll be taking a look at Rebel Yell 10 year old Single Barrel which according to the front label was aged since December 2005 and bottled in Spring 2018.

Vital Stats:

Name: Rebel Yell 10 (Barrel #:4765240)
Age: Age stated 10 y.o. (actually 13 y.o.)
Proof: 100 Proof (50% ABV)
Type: Kentucky straight ‘wheated’ bourbon
Mashbill: 68% corn, 20% wheat & 12% malted barley
Producer: Lux Row Distillers
Website: https://rebelyellbourbon.com/whiskey/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with deep caramel, rich red fruits, a touch of cherries, cacao powder, and faintly vegetal/herbaceous oak.

Palate: The palate opens with a dash of sweet freeze dried red fruit fading to thick maple syrup bordering on butterscotch, tart red fruit, and bourbon-soaked cherry notes before tannic oak spice washes across the palate fading to dark chocolate and herbaceous oak.

Finish: The finish opens with residual oak spice, red fruits, brown sugar bordering on burnt, leads into a long aftertaste of tart red fruit, barrel spices, dark chocolate, and herbaceous oak.

Overall 

This is big, complex, the flavours are layered, there’s a decent spice kick at 100 proof (50% abv), and the oak influence provides both balance and maturity. As with many wheated bourbons aged over 8 years, the cellulosic barrel compounds (which have gradually broken down over 13 or so years) are now starting to throw their weight around in the form of oak-driven spice giving a wheat flavour profile with a backbone of oak. This doesn’t overwhelm the palate but instead oak and wheat work together to drive those layers of complexity and produce a delicious sipping bourbon. With a 10 year old age statement it’s great to know that the Rebel Yell team are bottling these single barrels when they meet their high standard as opposed to at the minimum age on the label. This bourbon does REALLY well because of this and I would argue also makes it a strong contender against many other brands of bourbon that carry their correct age statements and are therefore priced to match.

This bourbon is one of the best limited releases from Rebel Yell and an annual highlight on both sides of the pond with fans eagerly snatching them up. This is no surprise based on what I tasted tonight and even though there will be flavour differences between individual barrels I can’t imagine Rebel allow these to stray too far off their target profile.

Try or Buy?

The RRP of this release is around €80 and at this price these are always worth picking up. This price will probably increase as demand and US/EU tariffs continue causing havoc, however, even at €100 it would take a lot for me to leave a bottle behind.

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