The Blood Oath Bourbon series began back in 2015 when food scientist and Master Blender/Distiller John Rempe released his first secretive blend of aged bourbon under this new Luxco label. Since that time, the series has gained a massive following and Rempe has released six more pacts, each consisting of masterful blends of aged whiskey and one or more unique finishing processes.
In March 2022, Luxco announced the release of Pact No. 8, a blend of 14-year ryed bourbon, 11-year ryed bourbon, and 8-year ryed bourbon finished in Calvados casks from the Normandy region of France. This blend is bottled at 98.6 proof (49.3% abv) and retails for $119.99.
*Disclaimer – this sample was provided to me free of charge by the distillery; however, this did not impact my review of this product.
Appearance – Orange amber.
Nose – Slight ethanol initially blends with traditional notes of oak char, vanilla, and buttery caramel to create a simple, but pleasant aroma. However, as this whiskey breathes the Calvados finishing imparts an intensifying green apple aroma that blends nicely with the balanced bourbon notes. Think green apple slices tossed in cinnamon and sugar (a childhood favorite). The nose wasn’t spectacular, but it definitely gets the job done.
Palate – You know you’re drinking a blend of aged whiskey here because the strong oak influence is noticeable almost immediately. The rye influence then kicks in and you’re greeted with plenty of spice and just a bit more heat than expected at 98.6 proof. More of that cinnamon/spiced green apple flavor is present with a heavier oak char, along with some traditional caramel and vanilla. Much to my surprise, I didn’t find a lot of influence from the finishing.
Finish – The finish is long and the rye character continues to dominate, providing plenty of spice and once again, more heat than you may expect at this proof. That green apple note is present, along with cinnamon, clove, and brown butter. It is literally like you’re drinking raw apple pie filling! There is also a nice oak influence, but the finish is not overly dry or tannic, so you’re left with a rich mouthfeel that draws you in to the next sip.
Overall – This is a quality blend of aged, ryed bourbon that shows a very minor influence from the cask finishing, at least compared to many finished products available in the market. It should not be a surprise then, that I thoroughly enjoyed this whiskey! From start to finish, you get to taste a great blend of whiskey that shows its rye influence, and the finishing here actually complements that profile. I am certainly not a Calvados expert, but after my first tasting I actually cracked a bottle of 27-year-old Calvados and I started to develop a fond appreciation for the subtle complexity that it imparts in this blend. In my opinion, this blend represents what a quality finished whiskey can be!
As always, try it for yourself and let me know what you think. Cheers y’all!