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Kentucky Spirit "B&B Private Barrel" Bourbon

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When it was first introduced in 1994, Wild Turkey's Kentucky Spirit label was only the second widely distributed single barrel bourbon to hit the market. Offered at their signature 101 proof and around 8 years old, it was a unique product - an offering for bourbon connoisseurs in a time when that was a rare thing to be. Since then, bourbon has become kind of a "thing", and there are more single barrel products on the shelves than most could ever try in a lifetime. Even Wild Turkey has introduced a premium line - Russell's Reserve, which features a single barrel bourbon bottled at a slightly higher abv. So where does that leave Kentucky Spirit? We can certainly say that the barrels on offer under the Kentucky Spirit brand are noticeably distinct from the many barrels of Russell's we have picked and sampled at this point. Although we can't say for certain whether the change in profile is due entirely to barrel placement, aging, or some other combination of factors, fans of the distillery will find an entirely unique profile showcased here - and as longtime fans ourselves, we are very happy to invite this seemingly overlooked private barrel to the party.

On first taste, you realize immediately why this bourbon falls under the Wild Turkey side of the portfolio, loaded with spice, its a classic and bold bourbon whose warm and tingly oak notes seem to be drawn directly from that signature alligator char. It's always felt a bit surprising that the classic 101 bottling never become more of an entry shelf favorite amongst the whisky cognoscenti, particularly given the current craze for everyday bottled in bond options, and character driven high rye bourbons. Certainly Turkey's wood spice doesn't make for a mellow sipper, luckily that's not what we're all after. And for those who aren't quite as enamored by the savory, grassy, and herbal notes of high-rye, here we are treated to loads of baking spice and pepper while avoiding those other love/hate qualities.

The nose of the barrel we selected shows spiced apple cobbler and graham cracker crust. That easy-going preview leads to the burst of spicy honey that enamored this particular barrel to us, something like the chili pepper spiked honey that so beautifully dresses up a nice piece of cornbread at hipster places in the Midwest. Alongside that, bright citrus oils pop through, with old toasted oak, clove, toffee, and buttercream not far behind. Pepper runs prominently throughout, bell and black, well into the finish and alongside a good dose of tobacco as well. The honeyed chili oil spiciness stays on your tongue long after the sip, and it's a joy to get acquainted with the signature bold spice of classic 101 in a bottle equally brimming with complexity and finesse. Barrel filled in July 2012, bottled in summer 2021. Aged at the Tyrone campus, in Warehouse K, on the 4th Floor.