Rebel Distiller’s Collection Killis Vienna Barrel Pick 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 nine 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, Rebel Yell straight bourbon finished in French Oak, Rebel Yell straight bourbon finished in Cognac Casks, Rebel Distiller’s Collection, Rebel Yell bourbon infused with ginger root, and Rebel yell bourbon infused with root beer flavourings.

First released in the US in 2020, Rebel Distiller’s Collection offered retailers the opportunity to choose their very own barrel of Rebel Yell’s classic wheated bourbon and have it bottled at 113 proof (56.5% ABV). Aswell as sporting the name of the retailer, the front label also states the chosen barrel’s number, and the date that it was filled thus giving fans a round about number for how old the bourbon is. Following its success in the US, the program was launched in Europe in 2021 with the very first coming from a retailer in Austria called Killis. Today I’ll be reviewing this barrel pick which was released in May of 2021.

Vital Stats:

Name: Rebel Distiller’s Collection – Killis, Vienna (Barrel # 7112015 – Fill date: 17/06/2015)
Age: NAS (around 4..5 years old according to date on label)
Proof: 113 Proof (56.5% ABV)
Type: Kentucky straight wheated bourbon
Mashbill: 68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley
Producer: Lux Row Distillers sourced stocks
Website: https://rebelbourbon.com/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens sweet and complex with faint vanilla, dark fruit stewed in brown sugar syrup, faint citrus peel, earthy baking spices, cinnamon, and ethanol. As you nose deeper those earthy baking spice notes develop further to become a touch barrel-driven with cloves, and cacao powder whilst maintaining a dark fruit and cinnamon spice edge.

Palate: The palate opens sweet and bright with dark fruit covered in powdered sugar before becoming increasingly tannic with notes of tart cherries and raspberries emerging alongside earthy baking spices, deep maple syrup, and oak-driven black pepper. Chewing through the spice a further touch of charred oak emerges, bringing along notes of cacao and faint cloves.

Finish: The finish opens with residual tart red fruit and cherry notes before turning to the lingering tannic oak spice on the tongue. The aftertaste is warming and long with sweet red fruit, a touch of tannins, charred oak, and ethanol.

Overall

This is delicious and ticks all the boxes for what I’d expect from a high-proof wheated bourbon. From the complexity on the nose, the viscosity of the palate that’s layered with wheat and oak-driven flavours, to the sweet red fruit and tannic spice in the aftertaste, it plays right into that multifaceted flavour profile I associate with premium barrel proof wheated bourbons such as William Larue Weller or Larceny Barrel Proof. This really surprised me, as this whiskey is only shy of 5 years old, however, it also reflects the quality of the stocks that Luxco are offering to their customers for these picks and whoever chose this barrel for Kilis obviously knew what they wante! With a program like this and with demand for wheated bourbon at an all-time high I can see why fans were so excited for this hand-selected, high-proof, and non-chill filtered addition to arrive and I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint. If you’re a wheated bourbon fan, chances are you’re going to like these Rebel picks a lot! It’s also great that these are now becoming available in Europe as there really are not a lot of brands currently offering barrel picks on this side of the pond due to the significant effort involved.

Rebel’s parent company Luxco has had a busy couple of years, opening their distillery in KY, extending and adding brands to their portfolio, updating, and modernising existing products, aswell as announcing their acquisition by MGP in January of 2021. With this whiskey coming from stocks originally sourced from Heaven Hill, I imagine we’re eventually going to see Rebel’s own distilled stocks or MGP stocks becoming the source which, if done right, will hopefully see continued improvement of the brand as they continue to develop it and release more premium offerings like this. The future for Rebel looks bright, the quality of what they’re releasing improves with each new release, and with the expertise and resources of MGP behind them they’ll no doubt continue doing amazing things.

With a program like this and with demand for wheated bourbon at an all-time high I can see why fans were so excited for this hand-selected, high-proof, and non-chill filtered addition to arrive and I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint. If you’re a wheated bourbon fan, chances are you’re going to like these Rebel picks a lot!

With a program like this and with demand for wheated bourbon at an all-time high I can see why fans were so excited for this hand-selected, high-proof, and non-chill filtered addition to arrive and I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint. If you’re a wheated bourbon fan, chances are you’re going to like these Rebel picks a lot!

Try or Buy?

This pick retails for around €60 which is an absolute steal if you can arrange for one to be sent from Austria. In general, these picks have an MSRP of around $39.99 which is quite decent for a single barrel of wheated bourbon at a great proof.

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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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Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

Buy
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Buy
Me a Dram!
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Me a Dram!
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