I’ve seen this bottle sitting on the shelf of my local liquor store for quite awhile. I had been going back and forth on whether to try it or not. Then out of the blue one day, a buddy of mine, (Ryan Green an excellent web designer, hire him today!) handled me a full bottle. He said “I’m re-doing their website and I need you to take some pictures of the bottle for me and write a review.”
Now that’s an awesome way to get a bottle of bourbon! Especially one I had been sitting on the fence about. Now I had no excuses, he needed this pictures asap. So there wasn’t any time to waste! I snapped some pics of the bottle, poured a glass neat, snapped some more pics, dropped an ice ball in and took even more. Once I decided I was done, I finally got to drink this Wathen’s Bourbon.
This bourbon has a nice copper color to it. Semi deep in certain shades, and lighter in others. The bottle is a small and stocky 750 ml frame. It has some great little ridges on the side that act as finger grips for those times when you’re running with the bottle and don’t want to lose your grip.
My favorite part about this bottle is the protective seal around the cap. Each bottle is individually labeled stating the barrel number and the date on which it was bottled. I’ve always been a huge fan of this technique. This Wathen’s Bourbon came from barrel #668 and bottled on March 28, 2012. I know these numbers are hand written with an ink pin because when I poured it into a glass, some bourbon leaked down the side of the neck and smeared the ink a bit.
My second favorite part of this bourbon is the front label. Towards the bottom there is a hand-written note from Charles W. Medley:
“This whiskey was personally selected by me. It is characterized by its lightness and dryness and has no peer among bourbon whiskies.”
Pretty cool right? I love seeing stuff like that on a bottle. I know it may be marketing whooplah, but it’s cool to see a message from the distiller.
As I continue on my journey of reviewing more and more spirits, I always find myself trying to accurately describe what I’m tasting and smelling. I believe trying spirits neat will give more complexity to the spirit and will let me taste it how the distiller believes it should be enjoyed.
I wasn’t using my typical bourbon glass for this review. I have two specific ones that I use for reviews, they don’t have any labels on them and they look great… They were in the dishwasher, I guess I’ve been drinking too much lately. This glass however, was very difficult to nose with. I had to cup my hand around the edge of the glass to concentrate the aroma to be able to detect different notes.
The first and heaviest dose I picked up was the sweetness of corn, followed by the strength of the vanilla. There was a huge alcohol waft as well. After getting through the first few initial sniffs I began picking up a couple of other notes. I got some hints of tobacco, I’m hoping this goes well with a cigar for my next pairing! Finally, I got a slight hint of rye on the nose.
The aroma on this Wathen’s Bourbon was very dry and intense. It felt like it was drying out my sinus cavities and causing them to start draining. Disgusting I know, but that’s what happened I tell ya.
Right off the bat, there was a lot of spice on this bourbon. I always like to let it sit on my tongue, and then slowly ooze it over the sides of my tongue to the more sensitive parts. I then swallow to see with what I’m left with.
Well this Wathen’s Bourbon left me with quite a bit of spice. There was a good oak flavor with some vanilla notes, but mainly spice. It has a very sweet front end when you first sip it, then it’s kicked out of the way by the spice. Have I said spice enough?… Spice
I’m always interested to see how bourbons finish. So many of them leave you wanting more, others leave you rushing for a glass of water. Wathen’s Bourbon has an interesting finish for sure. At first there is a nice buttery mouth feel to it. Then it’s followed by a lingering spicy burn on the tongue. Tingling my taste buds and causing my mouth to water as if it’s begging for more.
This bourbon doesn’t leave the heat trail down my chest like others too, which is confusing considering the spice. I’m ok with not having a real strong burn, but at the same time it’s always nice on a cold night to have something to warm you up. Even though this finish is a little dry, I’m a fan of it. I haven’t experienced a dry finish like this in bourbons. It’s something interesting to say the least.
Overall, a damn good bottle of bourbon. I wasn’t able to pull out a ton of complexity from it. The dryness is definitely a unique aspect to this bourbon. However, it has all the elements of a great bourbon, some sweetness from the corn, some spice, a great finish, and that classic oaky aroma. A lot of people probably haven’t heard or seen this bourbon, hopefully this review convinced you to give it a shot if you have seen it. At $30 a bottle, I don’t think you’ll be let down.
Wathen’s Single Barrel Bourbon: 9/10