Updated December 15, 2017
By Randall Borkus
Average Rating: B-
Life is so good! My family is healthy and I am fortunate to find myself sitting on the 14th floor Oceanside of a great hotel on the Gulf of Mexico in Panama City Beach, Florida, sampling a new barrel proof bourbon whiskey from Redemption, heretofore bottlers of rye whiskey only.
I must confess that I’m a rye lover, and considering this 9 year old Redemption Barrel Proof bourbon whiskey makes me smile. The mashbill is 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley, and this is what they billed as their “low-rye” bourbon, which seems pretty entertaining to me considering that most major bourbons tend to be in the 8% to 15% rye range.
This barrel proof expression is sourced from MGP in Indiana, and barreled in Bardstown, Kentucky. Redemption puts it right on the label, in clear langauge and like they are supposed to, and on their web site.
The whiskey is a dark caramel color with medium legs as I swirl it in my glass. The nose dances with hints of oak, caramel, slight rye spice and a touch of chocolate.
The mouthfeel is warm and spicy, with a nice flavor array of oak, licorice, cinnamon spice and dried dark fruit. The palate sings with rye spice and coats the back of the throat with noticeable dryness from the intersection of 9 years with the oak. The finish has a moderate cinnamon spice, an oaky overtone with an earthiness and a slight hint of corn that will invite you to nip another flavor splash. The overall flavor profile leans towards high-rye like bourbon and it is good, not great but surely good.
This Redemption barrel proof bourbon is a semi-complex spicy bourbon, with a nice character that will excite many rye lovers and put off some of the corn whiskey purists. I suggest you let it air for 10 minutes or more and maybe even add a few drops of water to unleash more of the bourbon characteristics. The whiskey is barreled in a new-charred oak barrel and bottled at a 55.3% ABV.
Addendum by Richard Thomas
I got to sample the 2017 release of this expression, and this particular batch came in at 58.1% ABV. In the glass it came across with a red, clear middle amber coloring, and it’s coat left a few thick legs.
For a whiskey pushing 120 proof, I found this Redemption spin on MGP bourbon to be surprisingly un-hot. The scent was that of thick creme brulee with vanilla bean, a hint of cedar, and dashes of mint and dill. Once on my palate, it switched to a more non-descript, but still robust bourbon profile: corn sweet with vanilla, seasoned with peppermint.
I liked it a bit more than Randall did the 2016 version, but not quite enough to nudge our average grade up.
This Cask Strength sweetheart is a pricey $99.99 a bottle.