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Rowen’s Creek, 12 year, small batch Bourbon, produced by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd, Bardstown, KY, is part of their Small Batch Collection: Noah’s Mill, Rowan’s Creek, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage. They also distill Johnny Drum Old-fashioned Sour Mash Whiskey, Vintage Bourbon 17, and the Old Bardstown series. According to the distiller, Rowen’s is bottled by hand, one batch at a time, and is named after the creek that runs through the distillery. John Rowen settled in the area in the late 1700s, and later became a respected judge and statesman.
Though not a ubiquitous whiskey, I have seen it now and then on the internet, and I suppose I was attracted by its rarity and seemingly small production as compared to the mainstream bourbons. The label on its wine-type bottle, which is designed to look hand-written, also causes a degree fascination. I once offered a dram to an acquaintance, who quickly declined while asking if it was home-made :-) The reviewed bottle is from batch 07/121.
Bottle Nose: Rich butterscotch pudding
Glass Nose: Deep brown sugar, candied butterscotch, vanilla and a hint of chocolate brownie ... sometimes piney with alcohol
Palate: Tasted without water, you are immediately engaged with a luscious, chewy, deep semi-sweet brown sugar, and lovely concentrated flavors of fruits & flower blossoms, and perhaps a bit of cinnamon.
Finish: A big, long burst of wonderful, dry and satisfying warmth.
Conclusion: Rowan’s Creek is a rich, unique, assertive, tasty and very pleasant bourbon, with a medium body. There are no harsh edges or bitterness, and it is a worthy addition to any collection. It is one of those bourbons that, during the first sip, grabs your attention, and compels you to sit down.
While not quite an Ultimate bourbon, it is unique and easily Top-shelf, and quite above the “everyday” group, such as Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey and Makers, which all seem 1-dimensional in comparison. Peers to Rowan’s Creek might be Bakers, Jefferson’s and Van Winkle Special Reserve. Rowan’s is mid-priced in the mid 30s USD (20s GBP).