Review: John Parrott Barrel Proof Bourbon

There is predictably – or perhaps peculiarly – very little public information available on John Parrott barrel proof bourbon, which is the inaugural release from newcomer SK Spirits.

Per their website: “‘This whiskey is a tribute to John Parrott and everything he stood for,’ said Michael Sawyer, SK Spirits CEO and Lead Rectifier.” And who is John Parrott? A beloved figurehead of the associated fraternal order of the founders of SK Distillery who “spent many nights with a glass of whiskey in hand, discussing the most important matters of the day. John Parrott believed that far more binds us than divides us, and that the values of friendship, justice, and learning were paramount.”

Inquiring minds want to know more. However, the story on how the whiskey was put in the bottle is a bit more intriguing and relevant for Drinkhacker purposes, so I will pivot and briefly relay the 411 on the drink shared by Lead Rectifier Michael Sawyer himself. The final product is actually a blend of two sourced whiskeys: 72% MGP barrels (75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malt) and 28% Whiskey Thief barrels (74% corn, 18% rye and 8% malt). The intent initially seemed to have been for a limited release of pure MGP but it was eventually decided to add in the Whiskey Thief stock. All barrels were between 6.5 and 7 years aged at time of blending.

That’s a promising start in terms of the sourced distillates. Investigative journalism aside, this release is asking a pretty penny at $185 per bottle. So let’s dig in.

The nose is quite spicy, bright and clean with accents of green apple and Sprite sprinkled with white pepper alongside the expected caramel and vanilla aromas. On the palate is a dance of cinnamon heat on a bed of frosted cornflakes, with a biting sweetness akin to raw honey. The finish is intriguing in that every sip presents a different closing (perhaps owing to the very strong and contrasting personalities coming out of the MGP and Whiskey Thief barrels). Initially the oakiness and leather is a bit overpowering, but with subsequent sips the bitter grip recedes into a more pleasant dryness and is better balanced between the burnt caramel sweetness and oak notes. And yet another turn levels the oaky leather to dusted cacao powder. Though it’s a high-rye bourbon, there is an even bolder rye personality than expected here.

Overall a great deal of personality is on display. The nose and initial palate of fragrant spice is fairly consistent and pleasant. The intrigue arrives in the finish with its variable showcasing of both oak and spice. Adding to this peculiarity is how clean the finish closes in spite of all that spicy, bitter fanfare; various notes seem to literally disappear without a trace when you ride it out. This could alternately feel welcoming or elusive. That enigma is one that I will leave to the beholder to sift through.

108 proof.

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