Bourbon is big business. And even though it has a reputation as a cheaper option to scotch, it always has been. People throughout most of the history of this country have made a very good living distilling, aging, buying and selling this whiskey that we all love so much.
For a long time, bourbon was cheap. Nobody wanted it. Whiskies aged to extreme age often just got redistilled into something else, vodka or fuel. Bourbons of middling age, six to eight years old, regularly made it into products that were nominally around four years old. It was good if you were a bourbon drinker, but in honesty almost no one was. You could barely give the stuff away.
Not to worry though, those days are firmly in the past. These days everyone wants bourbon. The more expensive, the better. Some days it feels like taste doesn’t matter nearly as much as price. And like good businesses, producers have given the folks what they want. Sure, most of the old value labels have stuck around, but almost everyone has gotten into the Ultra-Premium game. Wild Turkey has it’s $150 Master’s Keep, Diageo has it’s Orphan Barrels, And now Luxco, makers of Everclear and bourbons such as Ezra Brooks and Rebel Yell has taken a turn at bat.
Even though Blood Oath felt like it was trying a bit too hard (it’s proof is blood temperature after all), I had some hopes that Blood Oath would be a decent bourbon. I’ve been a fan of a lot of the labels in Luxco’s Ezra Brooks line and even liked one of the new brand extensions for Rebel Yell. They obviously spent a decent amount on the new packaging. It is beautiful. They were trying something new by blending wheated and rye bourbons. All signs that a company is ready to make something special. Tossing a brand new bourbon out with a $100 price tag is a statement that they think people will want to buy it.
Blood Oath, Pact 1
Purchase info: $98.95, 750 mL bottle. Blue Max Liquors, Burnsville, MN.
Details: A blend of two rye bourbons and a wheated bourbon. 49.3% ABV.
Nose: This has a very sweet nose, leading with maple and clove. That is followed by wet, old wood and a slight fruitiness that balances things out nicely.
Mouth: This tastes almost nothing like it smells. Where the nose was sweet and a light, the mouth is heavy and on the dry side. The descriptor I immediately think of is “dusty.” It has the feeling of an old, closed attic where things have been stored for too long. It’s not a wet attic since there is no mildew, but rather old boxes and dust. After that I get maple, cocoa powder, a slight fruitiness (that isn’t nearly enough to balance the overpowering dust) and a good bit of heat.
Finish: Warm and of medium length. The maple and slight fruitiness are carried over from the palate and transition to more dusty cocoa.
Thoughts: After tasting this, it feels like Luxco was making a cash grab. Wow! Disappointing. The nose takes me one direction and the palate takes me directly in the opposite direction with few notes overlapping. As I stated above, I’m a fan of the various bourbons in the Ezra Brooks line because they are tasty and a good value. This has neither of those things going for it. I found it heavy, closed, dusty and flat. For the price I paid for it, I can’t recommend it. It was an interesting idea, but is way overpriced and honestly just not that good. Hoping that a little oxygen might help this, I tried it at various times along a two month period until now when my last few pours yielded the review samples. No real change.
In short, the bottle says that “this rare whiskey shall never again be made.” To my palate that’s a good thing. For the price I expected amazing. Instead, it’s one of the few bourbons I’ve regretted buying.
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