After the tasting at Stirling Fine Wines the other day, I wanted to have a proper tasting at home using the right tasting glass — my Impitoyable whisky tasting glass.
So Penelope Bourbon is a four grain straight bourbon whiskey, 40% vol. All the details about the company and its creators as well as the reason for its proof (alcohol content) in my previous post .
Their website : penelopebourbon.com
In the glass it has a pale vibrant golden color, slightly cloudy (really a hint) depending on the temperature.
With this proper glass that has a chimney type collar, it is easier to have a good sense of its scents. It has a nose of roasted cereals with honey, a hint of homemade pie, then vanilla and caramel — more the butterscotch type — and malt. The scent is very round and delicate.
When smelling and tasting it in my Impitoyable whisky glass, I didn’t put any ice in it so it doesn’t alter the tasting by diluting the spirit : but to cool it down I rather used the metal rim that is put under the glass (between the glass and the coaster). The metal rim is put in advance in the freezer so it can cool down the spirit in the glass from the outside without needing any ice cube. But after the tasting per se, to simply enjoy my bourbon I put an ice cube — only one as advised by Daniel Polise, the co-founder of Penelope Bourbon during our chat at the Stirling Fine Wines tasting.
In mouth it is very smooth with a powerful honey and vanilla taste, then homemade pie, then a hint of flower (honeysuckle), then comes the rich caramel taste, on the butter caramel side. At that point I also found a taste of homemade crumble. It is very sweet and creamy or even buttery but the creamy side of butter — the very pleasant side of fresh butter. The finish and after mouth is vanilla and caramel.
All this smoothness makes it a very approachable bourbon.
In the background one can feel the structure brought by the rye grain. Behind its sweetness and its smoothness, it has structure and strength but it is nicely mellowed (fondu) by and in the honey, vanilla and caramel notes.
This bourbon can be tried and liked even by people who don’t appreciate the usual sharpness of whisky, though usually all bourbons are on this milder taste end (no heavy smoky nor peat tastes that are common and almost mandatory in Scotch whisky). The fact that it is also lower proof helps to make it smooth to the palate, without the aggressive attack of a high alcohol content.
But even if like me you are a Scotch whisky and even preferably a single malt drinker, you can enjoy this sweet, smooth and round bourbon as another whisky experience. I will definitely have it again in lieu of a Scotch times to times.
One can drink it before meal as aperitif or after the meal as a sipping spirit with friends when we rebuild the world through the evening and the night. To perfect the experience I would even have it with some high quality chocolates or even an artisan French caramel made with real butter and cream (I am thinking something like the Isigny Ste Mère caramels from Normandy).
All in all a very pleasant experience of actually enjoying and appreciating bourbon for itself : as I mentioned previously, I am not used to drink bourbon, at least not straight. In the past the only ways I had bourbon were in cocktails or with fruit juice or coke and sometimes in a hot toddy type of drink.
I am happy to have found a bourbon that I can drink and savor as such, as I would do with a Scotch whisky or single malt whisky. I am absolutely happy that I bought it, it’s a nice addition to my whisky collection and it will become a classic and regular item in this collection.
One last thing : during our little chat, Daniel Polise and Michael Paladini, the founders, mentioned that they are preparing a batch number 2 (this one is batch number 1) that would be slightly different because they plan to age the bourbon in barrels that were previously used to mature port. It’s very exciting to see how it turns out.
So… to be continued…