Never Say Die Barrel Strength Bourbon Review

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“Never Say Die Bourbon was founded in 2017 by Kentucky native Pat Madden. The brand’s name is inspired by the miraculous story of a champion thoroughbred born at Madden’s family’s Hamburg Place Farm in the 1950’s. As a newborn foal it was close to death, but a shot of bourbon brought it back to life and allowed it to eventually go on to win the Epsom Derby at an impressive 33-1 odds in front of HM Queen Elizabeth and Winston Churchill. This win changed the English perception of American racehorses and changed the fortunes of many who backed it to win. Along with Pat Madden, the brand was also founded by a team of American and British industry leaders including Dr. Pat Heist and Shane Baker of the premium craft distillery, Wilderness Trail; Brian Luftman of American Farm Investors; and UK-based strategists, David Wild, Fran O’Leary and Martha Dalton. Never Say Die is produced exclusively for the English bourbon market gaining it the moniker “England’s Bourbon.” The current range of whiskies include a KY straight bourbon whiskey, a barrel strength bottling of the same bourbon, and a KY straight rye whiskey.

To create their unique “world-first” bourbon, Never Say Die’s bourbon journey begins in Kentucky, where the whiskey is distilled, barrelled, and aged for up to four years. The barrels are then shipped on a six-week ocean voyage to England, where they travel to the White Peak Distillery in Derbyshire for the final maturation stage. According to those behind the brand, this combination of ocean air, locally sourced grains, high-quality, mineral-rich water, shipping in barrel, and the colder climate in the UK comes together to create their unique flavour profile. Given that the source of the whiskey is provided as Danville KY we can assume the whiskey itself is from the Wilderness Trail Distillery and was made using a high rye mashbill of 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley. Today I’ll be taking a look at the Barrel Strength offering which was released in the UK in October of 2022 and is from one of 5 chosen barrels thus far.

Vital Stats:

Name: Never Say Die Barrel Strength Single Barrel Bourbon (Barrell #4)
Age: NAS (4 y.o.+)
Proof: 122.2 Proof (61.1% abv)
Type: Kentucky straight bourbon
Mashbill: 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley
Producer: Never Say Die Distillery, KY
Website: 
https://neversaydiebourbon.com/englands-bourbon/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with bright caramel, vanilla, faint red fruits, a touch of orange peel oil, grassy rye, earthy barrel spices, dark chocolate, and a touch of green oak. As you nose deeper it continues sweet with sour green apples, more baking spices, leather, earthy clove, and a touch of bitter char.

Palate: The palate opens viscous with soft brown sugar caramel, tart red fruit, orange peel oil, vanilla, peppery rye spice, a hint of ginger, and tannic oak. As you continue to chew, the spice fades back to barrel notes of dark chocolate, earthy baking spices, and lingering citrus and tannic oak heat.

Finish: The finish opens with lingering rye heat and tannins mingling with brown sugar caramels, barrel notes of cloves, dark chocolate, and herbaceous char leading to a long, barrel-forward aftertaste with a touch of red fruits.

Overall 

As someone who appreciates truly good barrel-proof bourbon, I have to say that this one has exceeded my expectations. Despite its youth, it has a classic and refined bourbon profile that rivals many bourbons of a similar age and achieves everything it sets out to achieve. For me it’s approachable, the flavours are well balanced, and the price is very reasonable. I also love the backstory especially whem you consider the clever parallels. Similar to its namesake horse, this bourbon was born in Kentucky, brought to the UK, and aged beautifully, before going on to play its part as an ambassador for one of America’s finest exports. In this role, it’s an excellent ambassador for the category, and as a single barrel product, it’s clear that the dreamteam behind the brand have put a lot of care and attention into making sure the liquid inside matched the bottle outside for that ‘wow’ factor. If you’re someone who’s looking to take the plunge into barrel-proof bourbon, like its namesake horse, this whiskey rewards those who have faith in it. Never Say Die will no doubt continue to do very well and I look forward to tasting what comes next as their product continues to mature and hopefully get released as older ingle barrels.

Try or Buy?

This is available from most online whiskey retailers in the UK for approximately £75 which is very decent considering the quality of the whiskey. I would definitely recommend seeking out a bottle or a dram from a decent whiskey bar to help you make your decision.

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Before you go…

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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!

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