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Wathen’s Barrel Proof "Barrel #99 SoCal Barrel K&L Exclusive" Cask Strength Single Barrel Straight Kentucky Bourbon (750ml) SKU #1477771

Price: $79.99

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Tasting Notes

Wathen's is one of those interesting brands filled with mystery yet offering awesome products. Charles Medley has decades of experience distilling in Kentucky. He was for many years the Master Distiller at a plant in Owensboro and when that plant was closed, Charles was able to acquire some of the stocks and the old facility he ran. He never got the old plant up and running, but had success selling those casks with his son Sam under various labels. His good standing in the bourbon community has afforded Charles the ability to contract still time at an unnamed plant elsewhere in Kentucky and he distills to his own specifications a small run (presumably several hundred casks), each year. Those are market under the Medley and Wathen's names, but it's always been their single barrels that most interest us. After many years, Sam has finally agreed to bottle some of his excellent whisky at full cask strength for us. While we don't have an age, it's safe to assume this is upwards of 8-10 years old. If we sold cask strength 10 year old from any of Kentucky's major distilleries for $80, it would be sold out in a day. So few of Kentucky's producers are willing to bottle at cask strength that these barrels are a coup by any measure. Yet since we have little information about the source, these excellent barrels are often over looked. We have two, but they're both exceptional by any measure. Rich and full of sweet dried fruit and spice, few barrels available beat these excellent bourbons.

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Staff Reviews

  • David Othenin-Girard
    By: David Othenin-Girard
    9/15/2020
    K&L Staff Member
    The exceptional Wathen's brand suffers from not having a team of marketing and sales people pushing it all over the place. But those who know understand that they're offering some of the best stuff out there. It's not sourced bourbon or contract distilled, but distilled by the owner Charles Wathen Medley at an undisclosed facility. They finally agreed to offer some single barrel selections at cask strength three years ago and if they'd put the age on these bottles they would have certainly sold out months ago. We can guess it's between 8 and 10 years old from one of KY's big distillers to Charles' specifications. If you tried the Medley cask strength and loved it, this is the same stuff more or less for $20 less. Let's taste: the nose starts with syrupy corn oil, vanilla bean, black tea, cinnamon and dried stone fruits. This is WAY less grassy than last years', which were total grass bombs and much more in line with the traditional Wathen's profile, which is to say sweet and spicy. On the palate: great balance, with the deep sweet oak coming through over the background baking spices. Lots of fuel in the tank here, richly textured and a long soft finish. There aren't many sleeper bourbon brands left, but this here is easily one of the coolest KY bourbons that's not on most bourbon nerds' radar. But what counts here is just how damned good it tastes, inviting and familiar yet unique in character.

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