By Richard Thomas
Located far off the regular pathways of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail are the handful of distilleries of Western Kentucky, the region beyond the Bluegrass and the cave country, where Kentucky becomes riverine. This is where Old Charles Medley can be found, out in Owensboro where they enjoy mutton barbecue, and where moonshining has strong roots along the course of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers.
It’s also home to MB Roland Distillery, ironically situated on what was an Ahmish dairy farm in Christian County. MB Roland is in some ways a fairly typical micro-distillery, in that they mix unaged with aged whiskey products. Yet they are also among the most deeply committed to the potential of smoking grains, and in the region they are only surpassed by Corsair Artisan over in Bowling Green and Nashville.
On the aged side of their lineup is their flagship bourbon, the MB Roland Single Barrel. Between its small batch size and its popularity, it often sells out on the day of its release.
Batches of the MB Roland single barrel bourbon usually come out between 102 and 108 proof (51 to 54% abv), as it goes into the bottle uncut. The one I tried was at the higher end of that range, at 106 proof. In the glass, it had a dark brown-beige caramel coloring, leaning away from the reds of the typical amber.
The nose is very corn-forward, packing a lot of sweetness rounded out with a toasty aspect. The flavor follows along those lines, being syrupy sweet, but with a red fruits current instead of the more usual vanilla or citrus zest, plus a dash of toasted wood rather than barrel char. It goes down smooth and light, leaving a mild warmth. Overall, the MB Roland Single Barrel is a pleasant, simple bourbon.
As part of a price check I did around Kentucky, I think you should expect a fifth of MB Roland Single Barrel Bourbon to set you back about $50 to $55.