Kentucky Owl has had a lot to prove ever since handing over the reigns to their Master Blender John Rhea. Since Rhea took over in 2021 the former COO of Four Roses has overseen a flurry of activity in the form of new expressions and a number of limited edition offerings for the brand. The bread and butter for Kentucky Owl, however, remains their core bourbon which is now on Batch #12.
For Batch #12 Rhea has taken 7-to-14 year-old bourbons and mingled them with two different four year old bourbons to complete the blend. On paper one worries that the younger bourbons will drown out the older stock, but once this bottle is opened it becomes apparent that this isn’t the case.
As the liquid tumbles into the glass aromas of sweet cornbread, nutmeg, brown sugar, and a faint nuttiness fill the air. Soon afterwards these notes are joined by the smell of figs and orange blossom with a bit of wet newspaper and lipstick in the fold as well. Cornbread, butterscotch, and baking spice come through on the palate along with a familiar strawberry licorice note reminiscent of Twizzlers candy that teases the tip of the tongue before receding into the heartier notes aforementioned.
With a mouthfeel that never goes beyond “moderate” and a muted midpalate, the well-developed flavors don’t have much of an opportunity to reach their potential on the palate despite the initial promise of the nosing experience. Kentucky Owl Bourbon Batch #12 carries a hefty price tag and while it is a whiskey sure to impress, ultimately it’s also one that needs a bit more oomph to justify the cost.