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Review: MB Roland Bourbon, Batch 16

Posted on by Eric Burke

Disclaimer: I consider Paul and Merry Beth of MB Roland to be my friends and in my statement of ethics I promised to disclose when I am reviewing one of my friend’s products and to only review them when it was truly somethiing I really liked. This is one of those times.

One of the things I like best about Kentucky are the people I meet when I visit. I think that every single time I’ve stopped there, I’ve left with newfound friends. Every time. And that includes the first time I stopped. 

I wasn’t in Kentucky very long that first time. I was driving to Savannah, Georgia for vacation. It was just my wife and I. One of the first vacations we’d taken on our own since our daughter had grown up and discovered she had her own life. We were not sure what we were going to do, but we knew that this trip was going to be just us, doing the things that we wanted to do, when we wanted to do them.

We had a genereal idea of what we wanted to stop and see, but didn’t really have anything planned for the leg of the trip between St. Louis and our overnight stop near the Great Smoky Mountains. So I did a little research. I was just starting to get into spirits and didn’t know much about it at that point. I have no idea what made me type the word distillery into the search bar of google maps as I was looking for something to see during that day. But it got a hit. Just off of the I-24 freeway. Something told me I had to stop.

When we got there, Paul Tomaszewski greeted us and offered us a tour. I took him up on it and proceded to have my eyes opened up to the facinating world of the process of making spirits. As we got back to the gift shop, I offered the opinion to anyone that would listen that they should also take the tour. We did the tasting, bought some products and continued our journey. 

If you want to know what happens next, read the About Me page to the left. Needless to say, I liked what I bought. And because I felt it was the right thing to do, I emailed Paul to let him know just how much I was enjoying what he made. From there, we kept in touch. He letting me know some of the behind the scenes bits of whiskey making knowledge and I letting him know some of the opportunities he might want to look out for as he plays in the world of marketing. He and his wife Merry Beth are now good friends and I try to stop in to see them whenever I’m in the area.

MB Roland Distillery originally kept the lights on making shine. Perfectly legal, it’s made from a mash of both corn and sugar. They flavor it in a wide variety of ways and it is quite tasty. But even right from the start, they were also making whiskey. Malt whiskey was the first aged product of theirs that I had. It was good enough to make me forget clear spirits and turn most of my attention to whiskey. Over the years, I tried a few experiments of theirs and was always intrigued even when they weren’t necesarily successful experiments.

Somehow, I had never been able to try their bourbon. It always sold out too fast for me to be able to grab a bottle (especially from 15 hours away). This last time I was in Kentucky though, I got lucky. When I visited Liquor World in Bardstown, I happened to see a couple bottles sitting there on the shelf. I couldn’t pass it up. I had to buy it.

MB Roland Bourbon

Purchase Info: $51.89 for a 750mL at Liquor World of Bardstown, Bardstown, KY

Details: (all of this is disclosed on the label) 51.96% ABV. Batch 16. Bottle 35 of 129. Barrel #4 Char. Mash AA. Unfiltered and undiluted after distillation. “Mashed, Distilled and Bottled by MB Roland Distillery, Pembroke, Christian Co., KY”

Nose: Vinous. Reminds me of a brandy. Raisins, toffee, dark chocolate, dried corn.

Mouth: Hot and sweet with a hint of smoke. Bread dough, chocolate, caramel and leather.

Finish: Long and warm. The raisins are back along with the smoke.

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Thoughts: I normally dislike smoky whiskeys. Even a hint is enough to put me off. But not here. Here it’s just barely a hint and it works. This is a tasty and complex bourbon. it is warm without being overpowering. The raisin notes remind me of a nice brandy, but the leather, chocolate and caramel bring me right back to bourbon. I love this one. 

Paul, Merry Beth and crew: nice job on this one. I wish I’d thought to buy two.