Nose: This has a nice, rich, inviting scent. It is mostly vanilla and caramel and some brown sugar. Palate: This starts off with a blast of heat that is on the milder side, but still up-front and noticeable. The mouthfeel is in the medium range, as is the finish. The finish has some cinnamon tinged heat that you feel mostly on the tongue. The flavors are pretty well balanced and it has a lot of classic flavors like caramel and vanilla. There’s also some dark chocolate and even a little bit of milk chocolate and a hint of some nuttiness that I wasn’t able to pin down. Later sips bring out some toasted oak and a spiciness that doesn’t come across as rye spice, but is spicy nonetheless. In later sips, the heat in the finish actually feels more pronounced and it is very cinnamon based. Unlike some bourbons that warm on the way down your throat, on this one, the heat stays primarily on your tongue (even after you swallow), which does discourage mouth swirling a bit, but which isn’t enough to discount it. Despite that tongue-feel, it is a nice easy sipper and has a very nice, balanced assortment of flavors. Comments: This is 100 proof. Its label states it has been aged since Sept 2005, so that means I’ve had this since around 2016 (which Internet sources indicate was the first year of release). I seem to remember that it cost in $40 range. Total Wine lists it at $60 now. I have no problem with this in the $40 range, but in the $60 range, it is definitely a taste-before-you-buy. I’d like to think that they may have improved the barrels being selected for use, to justify the extra cost. Whisky Magazine awarded this the World’s Best Single Barrel award in 2020 and it is not a stretch to see that they may have picked some better barrels as this release progressed, and particularly if the barrel tasted (which it usually is) was specifically picked for “competition”. This is a wheated bourbon and the mashbill for the Heaven Hill sourced bourbon is listed as 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. In theory, that should make this a very close cousin to Larceny and Old Fitzgerald. Rebel Yell used to be a frowned-upon, bottom shelf dweller, but I think that in recent years this has changed considerably. So…..if you didn’t like it in the past, you may wish to give it another shot. Regular Rebel Yell was sourced from Heaven Hill but Rebel Yell now has its own distillery (they broke ground in 2016), so it will be interesting to see in coming years how their own juice fares. Some Internet reviews indicated that this needs for the bottle to be opened so the contact from oxygen can do its thing. I agree. I would also state that the longer this sat in the glass, the better it got, so if you’re sipping this one, let it sit a while before having at it.
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