Whisky Connosr
Menu
Shop Join

Wathen's

Wathen's Single Barrel # 1303

0 1077

@VictorReview by @Victor

5th Aug 2011

0

  • Nose
    22
  • Taste
    19
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    18
  • Overall
    77

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

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.

Related Wathen's reviews

10 comments

@dbk
dbk commented

What a shame that this barrel doesn't stand up to the other one, @Victor. Even though one would expect variation from one barrel to the next, it is foolish for the distillers/bottlers to let an inferior barrel into the mix. It only sullies their reputation and leads to trepidation when looking to purchase one of their single barrel releases.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@dbk, I agree with you completely. After tasting the two barrels I had to wonder about the barrel selector. My preliminary guess, and it is still just a guess, is that barrel # 1303 is more the outlier. Nonetheless, buying a bottle that one found wanting does give one pause the next time one considers a purchase of that product.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

One more thought, @dbk: I haven't seen references to any other Wathen's products except for the single barrel expression. If they have little other destination for their self-branded bourbon except for sale as a single barrel product then I would expect that the selector has a very large incentive to retain the marginal barrels, if the only other options are to pitch them down the drain, or sell them off cheaply on the secondary market.

8 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

That's a good point, @Victor.

8 years ago 0

Fiver67 commented

wathens at one time was my favorite. Now I compare the last 2 bottles purchased 2012 and 2013 to being similar to Four Roses Small Batch. I know Bulliet bourbon is currently being distilled by Four Roses and has the same taste profile to me.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

27 months after the initial review I am tasting this, the lesser of my two samples of Wathen's, again. The citrus and the mint have mostly dissipated, and I do like this better than at first, though it is still more "ok" than "great". This has gone a little sour after all of this time. Score now, unaltered, 82; score with 5% wood-aged rum sweet balance restorative: 83. Usually the rum will improve things more than 1 pt, but not this time.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Fiver67, it is interesting that you were writing up your comment just as I was writing up my comment on this whiskey on which I am commenting and about which I have not commented since I reviewed over 2 years ago.

This was my second review of a Wathen's Single Barrel. The first one was great, this one, not.

Interesting to me that Wathen's seems similar to you to Four Roses Small Batch. To me Four Roses has a "house style" which is very identifiable...all Four Roses tastes like Four Roses to me, and I have never thought that anything else, including Wathen's, tasted very similar to any of their products. When I taste the Wathen's and think of your comment, I still notice that there is more pointedness to the Wathen's than to ANY Four Roses product(though I consider Bulleit Bourbon to be the closest thing to 'pointed' that Four Roses makes.) Four Roses is extraordinarily "rounded" and soft, even at 35% rye content. I do not know how they do that, because it is much different from other bourbons. It took me a LONG time to get to liking Four Roses, because I like the pointed flavours. In comparison to something like Wild Turkey, which is like being in a boxing match, tasting Four Roses was more like being LOST IN A FOG. I have grown to like Four Roses, though.

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Fiver67, yeah, pre-Luxco Rebel Yell! What the hell happened to Rebel Yell?!? I remember some GREAT Rebel Yell a few years ago.

6 years ago 0

Fiver67 commented

Yes it is unfortunate! Rebel Yell was my go to Bourbon for a long time. I am really enjoying my bottle of OGD 114 on your recommendation. I am not a fan of Basil Hayden but OGD bottled in bond is a great value. I am looking forward to getting a bottle of Old Forester 2013 Birthday Bourbon this weekend and would like to know would you recommend WT Rare Breed or Bakers?

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Fiver67, try the Rare Breed first, but do be sure to get around to having some Baker's later. I like them both a lot. Wild Turkey Rare Breed is more mainstream, and is just one of the great exemplars of bourbon. Baker's, which was my favourite bourbon for a couple of years before I tried a lot of them, is to me the odd man out in the Beam stable. To me it's the only standard Beam mashbill bourbon(medium rye, rather than the OGD-Basil Hayden's higher rye content) which really tastes like it could have been made at a different distillery. I think it must be the yeast used which makes it different. Baker's doesn't really give you the Jim Murray style long graceful finish...but then Old Grand-Dad 114 doesn't either. Some of us, ie like me, don't always need that and can just enjoy watching the fireworks explode in the sky and then fall suddenly to earth.

6 years ago 0

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in