[su_box title=” Wathen’s Single Barrel Vital Stats” style=”glass” box_color=”#1b2d63″ radius=”6″]Wathens Single Barrel (3)
◾ABV:47% (Proof: 94º)
◾Mash Bill:77% Corn, 10% Rye, 13% Malted Barley
◾Barrel Number 8934
◾Bottled on: September 14, 2015
◾Style: Straight Kentucky Bourbon
◾Distilled at: Unknown (sourced)
◾Age: Not Stated
◾Producer: Charles Medley
◾Price: $43.99
◾Availability: Available
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Wathens Single Barrel (2)What it is:

Charles Medley is no stranger to the world of Bourbon.  A distiller himself until the 1990s, Charles is the 7th generation of Wathens and Medleys to be in the bourbon biz.  Today, the Medley company- consisting of Charles and his son, Sam (the 8th generation)-  are non-distilling producers who bottle various whiskeys under the names Medley, Wathen’s, or some derivation thereof.

All their whiskey is distilled for them on contract to a mash bill of 77% corn, 10% rye, and 13% malted barley.  With a barley content higher than the rye, I generally will expect a slightly grain-forward profile on the palate.  This is certainly placed in a lower rye tranche of bourbons.

The single barrel variation is not age-stated, and I have read anywhere from 4 to 6 or even 7 years online, and while it’s true that as single barrels, they could certainly vary in age quite a bit, my guess is that with the bourbon boom and the troubles many NDPs are having finding contract distillers, this is closer to 4 years than 6.  Indeed, it is straight bourbon, so it’s at least a minimum of 2 years old.

Wathens Single Barrel (13)

Packaging:

This is packaged in a short, square bottle with a real cork and a tan label.  It proudly displays their “8 Generations” talking point.  The neck label has the barrel number and bottling date in hand-written text.  Kudos to Medley for the inclusion of the barrel #.

Wathens Single Barrel (12)

Appearance:

Deep russet and fairly dark in color, this is a rich looking bourbon.

Nose:

Strong notes of vanilla and oak dominate the nose with an earthy quality underlying it.  there are hints of bubblegum and circus peanuts that I often find in recent Heaven Hill products that may give a clue as to the provenance of the distillate.

Palate:

This is where is gets a little disappointing.  It starts off well enough with cinnamon and vanilla hitting the front of the palate, but that quickly gives way to a very astringent alcohol flavor that speaks of a barrel picked far too soon to be bottled.  It’s that “not quite aged, but not quite white dog” sensation that seems to numb the tongue with licorice and ethanol.

glencairn-amazonFinish:

The ethanol notes continues, unfortunately, but some oak and tannins re-enter near the tail end of this medium-to-long finish.

Synopsis:

I know quite a few people who enjoy Wathen’s, usually when paired with a cigar.  And maybe that’s the appropriate format here, as the tobacco would compliment the earthy notes on the nose and perhaps deaden the alcohol a bit.  Not one to admit defeat, I splashed this with water and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.  The alcohol was deadened nearly completely with only a small splash, and the oak notes were amplified.  In addition, the nose was changed entirely.  Gone were the sweet circus peanuts and caramel, and in its place was a spicy citrus orange and lemon zest- almost nose hair prickling.

I am usually not one to have to work for my bourbon.  If it doesn’t drink well straight out of the bottle, I don’t have a ton of patience to find the nuances it needs to make it into my regular rotation.  However, Wathen’s went from a very difficult bourbon to drink at all to a decent, if disconnected, sip.

So if you prefer your bourbon in a cocktail, or like it over a nice ice cube, I have no doubt Wathen’s will scratch your itch.  If sipping neat is your thing, keep looking.  I do recognize that as a single barrel, this could be an odd bottle.  But after tasting it, I think my original thoughts of 4 years old may be off.  Based on taste, this is closer to 3 years old.

ModernThirst.com score: 84 out of 100 points.

What does that score mean?

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