Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bond & Lillard The Whiskey Barons Collection Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $50 (.375 ml)
- 100 Proof
- NAS (Minimum of 7 years)
- Batch No. 1

This bourbon and Old Ripy, which I will be reviewing in the near future, are a couple new offerings from the Whisky Barons Collection, a series of bourbons released by Campari America and distilled at Wild Turkey (though without involvement of either of the Russells) to honor the pioneers of the bourbon industry and brands that did not survive prohibition.

The bottle itself is very attractive and cool-looking, and rather than put a lengthy story on the bottle, it simply identifies the two individuals being commemorated (W.F. Bond and C.C. Lillard), and provides a quick-hit nugget that "Before Prohibition, Bond & Lillard was highly referred and awarded the grand prize at the 1904 S. Louis World's Fair." Initially I was put off by everything as being too gimmicky, along the lines of Orphan Barrel. And though this is a bit gimmicky and probably a money grab while the bourbon trend is hot, Campari does not make up a story about some lost barrels that were miraculously found, but rather that they are producing a bourbon as a nod to some historical bourbon families, distilleries and recipes. In the end, I'm alright with that.

As to the bottle itself, $50 is a lot to ask for a .375 ml, and that's a factor that needs to be considered in any review. Nonetheless, I was clearly willing to try out a new product sourced from Wild Turkey, even if it meant likely overpaying a bit. I will say, though, that I really like the shape of this bottle. It fits in the hand much like a Red Stripe, causing me to reminisce about eating jerk chicken on the beach and listening to Jimmy Cliff. I never did end up drinking straight from the bottle, but in the hand, it almost feels like it's meant to be enjoyed that way.

The nose on this bourbon is soft, giving off notes of light fruit, and when I say light fruit, I mean that they don't overwhelm the senses, like pears and apples. I also pick up more traditional notes of caramel and sweet, vanilla pipe tobacco.

The flavor is a nice mix of sweet and spicy. The sweetness tends to be a fruity type of sweetness, though not the "light fruit" that I noticed on the nose. Rather, it's a kind of cherry flavor, balanced by a light chocolate note hanging out in the background. The spice is very much a clove spice, which I've always felt was kind of a weird cherry-cinnamon type spice to begin with, so I guess that makes sense. The texture is soft, with really no rough edges and a nice viscous texture, buttery even, that really coats the mouth.

As I made my way (albeit very quickly) to the bottom of the bottle, the sweetness really stood out, as it was kind of a unique sweetness that I can't recall noticing in a bourbon before. In fact, it took me a bit to place it, but once I did it was almost all that I noticed - sweet tea. I noticed a distinct southern-style sweet tea flavor to it. Though different, I really enjoyed it. It probably helps that I love sweet tea.

This was a fun bourbon to try out, from the label to the bottle to the interesting flavor. Everything about it was fun and enjoyable. It wasn't "great" bourbon, but it was really good and a fun pour in nearly every respect.

Grade: B+

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