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Intro: This is my second reviewed bottle of Wathen's Single Barrel Bourbon. My sister bought a bottle of Wathen's Single Barrel from barrel #1296 which I thought was great, so I bought this bottle from Wathen's Single Barrel #1303 for myself shortly thereafter. This reviewed barrel was bottled on 1-21-2011. There is no age statement on the bottle, though reports online are that this whisky is 8 years old. Wathen's Single Barrel is distilled at the Charles Wathen Medley Distillery in Owensboro, Kentucky. The Medley family members have been in the whiskey business since 1788. The reviewed bottle has been open for four weeks.
Nose: first, there is strong intensity honey, maple, oak, and citrus. There is also mint here, both spearmint and even some peppermint. Black pepper, cloves and cinnamon are noticeable from the rye grain. The alcohol greeting is relatively strong, which detracts from an otherwise very interesting, enjoyable, and complex nose.
Taste: Soft silky honey sweetness accompanies strong maple flavours and significant citrus. The black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon from the nose are also present on the palate. The mint on the nose does not transfer to the palate. The alcohol greeting on the palate is moderate and not as strong as on the nose.
Finish: the flavours linger long, with a lot of caramel and vanilla wood flavours present at the end of a slow fade out. Some spice, mostly black pepper, remains through most of the finish, but there is a lot of citrus flavour here as well, which, to my palate clashes with the other flavours.
Balance: I found my sister's bottle from barrel # 1296 to be wonderful, but this bottle from barrel # 1303 is not as good by a large measure. I find that the citrus here is very distracting to the overall balance, and renders both the palate and the finish much less enjoyable. In this reviewed sample the promise of the nose is not well delivered on the palate as well.
If I were judging Wathen's solely on this bottle from this barrel, I would not be enthusiastic about it. # 1296 was a far better barrel, however, so that I know that Wathen's does produce some excellent product.
I remind myself that it is possible for there to be a significant difference in taste profiles from different single barrels of the same-named whiskey. My hope for this bottle of whiskey is that 6 to 12 months of having the bottle open will allow the strong citrus flavours to dissipate and that then the flavours will harmonise much better.