Mass Bourbon Alliance & Liquor Junction weren't just blessed with one 14 year Exceptional Series from our last meeting with Pete and Pablo of Rare Character, we actually said yes to both 14 year malt whiskeys that were presented to us. Barrel 47 really had its own characteristics that set it apart from its sister barrel, but I'll defer most of the details to my last post on barrel 54 if you're itching for more information.
So much goes into producing a whiskey like this. Obviously the original distillery had a vision for what they wanted this to be. Perhaps some of the barrels that were originally filled found a market fit prior to this. All that matters now is that Pablo had a vision for this barrel, and ultimately that led it right into my arms. If these bottles or their original barrels could talk... I'd love to hear the stories they overheard through the years. The people in the whiskey community are really what I find myself celebrating today. Read on to find out what makes this whiskey exceptional!
Company on Label: Rare Character Whiskey Co.
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 65% Malt, 35% Corn
Age: 14 years
Further identification: Barrel E-M14-47 has a distilled in Kentucky age statement, an aged in Kentucky statement, an aged in new charred oak statement (important for bourbon drinkers), and Rare Character is listed as the bottling company; this whiskey was distilled in May of 2008 and bottled in December of 2022; expect this to land at Liquor Junction in very limited numbers soon as most of the barrel was presold
Nose: Upon first raising the glass to my nose I find white linen and bright crushed seashells by the edge of a sandy beach. Immediately I get incredible tropical vibes from this glass with pineapple, lychee and coconut shavings delicately blowing by on a soft breeze. Overall the nose presents funky, zesty and bright; it tingles in the sinuses. Werther's, leather, black pepper and allspice merge in a potent mixture for the nostrils. The nose-feel is thick, warm and inviting like a comfortable sunny Summers day. Deep lumberyard piles of wood and bark seep into every corner of the glass. All the notes here are oily, creamy and heavy. I'd say it's time for a sip.
Returning to the glass, I find that quality hangs in the air and doesn't let your senses relax as complex waves of intense crème brûlée build. The glass continues to be bright, oaky, and funkadelic. As the pour gets lower the creamy vanilla tones from the palate sink in. The nose continues to be quite bright and it may warrant a sneeze if you continuously dive its depths. White linen and various dried fruit skins sprinkle in late. Beautiful barrel funk continues to waft up warm notes of leather, mahogany and the aroma of the inside of a cigar box. The empty glass smells of chocolate dipped strawberries, sweet tobacco and old books.
Palate: Pow! This immediately slaps you with a huge wave of flavor and a long, comfortable hug. Right away this offers up a big punch of strawberry flambé atop creamy crepes. There's lemon frosting, fluffy whipped cream, tingling vanilla extract, and thick raspberry simple syrup hanging in delicate balance. A stone fruit parfait sits perfectly on the tongue with little heat. The mouth feel is most notable high up in the gums where sorghum and sugar stings the sweet tooth nearby. A sweet rum cocktail profile sits in the medium linger. Expressed lemon peel gets stuck within an oozing trail of thick molasses. Finishing the last sip of the glass is bittersweet as cherry hots sting just the tip of the tongue. The liquid experience slides impossibly slow towards the back of the mouth as red raspberry, red velvet cake, almonds and blackberry pie slowly trail off into a linger of dried fruit and elegant perfume.
Rating: Two Thumbs Way Up
There's so much to love here. Barrel 47 does well to give more instant gratification of flavor, which might be a welcome difference for the more traditional whiskey enthusiast looking for prominent signs of age. The finish here is shorter compared to the sister barrel, but that translates to a higher crushability factor. This is the pour I could see folks sipping on with dinner before moving onto the dessert that is barrel 54.
As a reminder, I try my best to never let bias creep into my reviews. In an effort to stay on top of that I've elected not to give my typical numerical score on this barrel that I personally had a hand in selecting. Do with this information as you will, but this barrel is already getting a lot of buzz!
@abandonbourbon gives this a score of 94, saying back in January in a sneak peak:
Not even the end of the first month and we already have a Whiskey of the Year contender?
The nose is beautiful butterscotch, dense vanilla coated red fruits, sweet honey glazed spices, well extracted espresso, and tons of leather.
The palate is deep, soaked in sugar sweetness of brown sugar and vanilla like an old school George T. Stagg but with the mouthfeel of William Larue Weller. Beautiful milk chocolate, leather, espresso, and dark cherry notes with the creamiest linger of oak and sweetness in harmony. The linger is perfumed and complex with spices not all unlike amburana but with a musty nutty funk like Turkey or Beam. This is buttery, sweet, nearly perfect whiskey.
Keep up the great work Rare Character. Cheers!