Is there a more appropriate pour of bourbon for St. Patrick’s Day? Perhaps not!
Kentucky Owl decided to change things up a little bit in 2022 with a holiday-inspired release, a somewhat surprising departure from their typical premium releases of bourbon and rye whiskey for the “Wise Man.” This blend represents a collaboration between Kentucky Owl Master Blender John Rhea and Louise McGuane, “Ireland’s first modern whiskey bonder and founder of J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey.”
According to Kentucky Owl:
Rhea and McGuane blind tasted individual cask samples, then again through multiple blending variations. The result features Kentucky straight bourbons aged 4 to 11 years, with some rich caramel notes and vanilla from rare older bourbons; spice and fruit from higher rye bourbons; and sweetness and citrus from wheated bourbons.
We don’t know much about the actual whiskey that comprises this blend, but we know it is a four grain blend since the company mentioned that the blend consists of high-rye bourbon and wheated bourbon. The blend is bottled at 100 proof (50% abv) and retails for $135.
Appearance – Light copper.
Nose – Slight ethanol gives way to a fairly sweet nose comprised of baking spice, vanilla custard, a hint of stewed green apple, and some green oak. The ethanol does taper off but the nose remains primarily sweet and not terribly complex.
Palate – There is an initial note of cereal grain up front but the sweetness quickly intensifies with a blend of muted green apple, honey, vanilla, and a very mild, floral citrus note, reminiscent of orange blossom. Some spice does begin to develop on the back of the palate, revealing some cinnamon and anise, but this whiskey is predominantly sweet and fruity.
Finish – The finish is medium with an average mouth feel. The sweet notes carry over from the palate with just a touch of milk chocolate, creamy citrus and green apple. However, the spice finally starts to pick up with prominent notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, along with a pronounced note of candied ginger that provides a nice peppery kick. There is also a very mild green oak presence, but the spice really dominates the finish and reveals some bold rye character.
Finish – What a fun pour for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration! Kentucky Owl put together a beautiful package with an interesting collaboration at the perfect time to celebrate the most important of holidays.
There are definitely some great things about this whiskey. It is a little sweet for my taste, but it’s definitely smooth and it does deliver a nice bouquet of flavors, particularly if you are a fan of Irish whiskey. However, I really didn’t find much depth or complexity in this whiskey, and I continually found myself looking for more with each sip.
My primarily issue with this bottle is the same issue I have with most (if not all) Kentucky Owl products: that price! I would love this bottle if it was marked in the $50-$60 range, but at $135 I would much rather spend a St. Patrick’s Day evening with any number of Irish whiskeys that come in at a much more favorable price point.
As always, try it for yourself and let me know what you think. Cheers y’all!