Nose: On the first sniff….I got...paint. Weird. I have no idea what is going on with that. Maybe it was the alcohol? The second sniff brought out some corn and vanilla. Maybe my nose is off today? Palate: This has a very nice intense hit of sweet, right off the bat. The mouthfeel is decently thick and you can immediately tell that you aren’t drinking a young whiskey. The mid-palate is fairly long and then just as you go into the finish, I got a blast of pepper. Then, there was a very toasty aftertaste that lingered at the back of the throat and on the tongue. Almost like bread that had been in the toaster just a tad bit too long. On the second sip, the pepper actually felt like it was tingling on my tongue. I’m not getting much, if any, rye spice on this one. I also got hints of the usual caramel and vanilla, but what really leaves an impression is that the heat (not harsh or burning) is very peppery. Almost like a hot pepper, vice black pepper. There are definitely notes of sweetness underneath it, but the pepper is the predominant flavor. Comments: Despite what sounds like a whiskey with too much pepper, I actually like this quite a bit. It is a very nice sipper. The pepper isn’t SO intense as to make the experience painful. It does, however, give a very different flavor profile and I found interesting. This guy is 100 proof and Bottled-in-Bond and 10 years old. This particular single barrel is from 2017, so I got it before McKenna won the Whiskey of the Year award (2019) at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and all the hoopla began (and, it got harder to get because everyone wanted it). That said, if you have access to a Class 6 store on a military post, they often get this in. You have to look for it because it sells out quickly, but they do get it. AND…..the best part of this is, it is a 10 year old that only sells in the low $30 range. A better bargain would be hard to find. EXCEPT…….I recently purchased the regular McKenna at a liquor store for something like $13 and it is a VERY serviceable inexpensive bourbon. McKenna (both versions) is a Heaven Hill product. So….once again…BARDSTOWN ROCKS!! FYI…the Internet says the mash bill on this is 75% corn, 13% rye and 12 % malted barley and that it is the same one used on Elijah Craig, Evan Williams and Fighting Cock. Here’s good advice to keep in mind when you try something like this…….If and when you find a really good version of a single barrel offering like this, GO BACK AND BUY MORE…..but make sure you are getting the SAME barrel. Luckily, it is marked on the label. The next barrel may not be anywhere close to the same.
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