Sunday, January 23, 2022
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5 Celebrity Bourbons, Blind Tasted And Ranked

Celebrity bourbon, like celebrity tequila or any other “celebrity”, is a strange beast. White labeling is a very real thing – it’s where big names put their names on a label, spend time promoting the bottles, and then collect checks with little to no real influence on the process. But that’s not always how celebrity-run bourbons are born. Some famous people immerse themselves in the whiskey-making process, help choose casks and blend, and spend a lot of time defending the whiskeys they helped make.

Today we have a bit of a mix of both worlds. Some of these bottles are original whiskeys that were released with the aim of allowing a celebrity to jump on the bourbon boom. Some of them are passionate projects. But does this love for the game show in what’s really in the bottle? Or can an indifferent star make a better bourbon with a big brand backing her?

We will see!

Today, I blindly taste five bottles and rank them on taste alone. I purposely kept it a little smaller. The main reason is that when I taste ten or 12 (or more) drams at a time, some just get lost in the mix – a few go up to the top, a few go down to the bottom, and the middle can get in. sort of an extended tie. When there are fewer drams competing, the competition becomes fierce as there is nowhere for an average dram to hide.

Our programming today is:

  • American Whiskey Drake’s Virginia Black Decadent
  • Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door Redbreast Edition
  • Matthew McConaughey’s Long Branch
  • DIGITS Bourbon by Scottie Pippen
  • Terry Bradshaw’s Bourbon Bradshaw

I was lucky enough to get a few from a bar owner and whiskey collector in Prague where I host whiskey tastings to help keep things new and varied (hence the little bottles of tasting in some of the pictures). Let’s go!

Part 1: Tasting

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Taste 1

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Tasting Notes:

It’s slim from the nose to the end. There is a touch of vanilla extract with a plastic vibe on the nose that leads to a hint of old lemon zest. The taste is quite watery with a touch of caramel and a slight spice that leans towards cinnamon toast. The finish comes fairly quickly with a little woody note.

It sounds like “bourbon” but fair.

Taste 2

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you in with aged leather alongside dark stone fruit, brittle toffees and something apricot jam-like with a healthy dose of winter spice. The palate is nutty (ranging from nutshell to marzipan) with a sticky caramel pudding vibe that leads to plum candy. This sweetness becomes very creamy with a base of vanilla pudding while a slight sensation of stringy cedar bark brings back to this sweet plum candy.

Taste 3

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Tasting Notes:

There are very light citrus notes on the nose that resemble a distant lemon-lime with a damp woody vibe. The taste dried out this wood immediately, leading it to almost pine-like wall panels with hints of dry and dark spice, peach kernels and vanilla that all lead to this lovely caramel candy finish.

Taste 4

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Tasting Notes:

It opens with a vanilla extract sensation that leads to lightly toasted popcorn with a touch of butter and an echo of cherry soda. The palate is a classic bourbon with hints of caramel sauce, black spices, light oak and dancing vanilla with light hints of leather and cherry tobacco. The end retains the vanilla before becoming a cherry candy on the finish.

Taste 5

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

Tasting Notes:

It’s a wild nose that ranges from Wether’s Originals to leather-bound books to drugstore aftershaves. The palate is all sweet spices with a woody vibe that is a bit of wicker and a bit of oak. The finish is spicy and warms up considerably before turning head first into the sweetness of the apple.

Part 2: The classification

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

5. Virginia Black Whiskey – Taste 1

Virginie Black
American black whiskey from Virginia

ABV: 40%

Average price: 40 $

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is the result of a collaboration between tequila maker Brent Hocking de DeLeón Tequila and Drake. The juice is a blend of high rye bourbon from MGP that has been aged for two, three and four years. This blend is then steamed up to 40 percent before being bottled in what can best be described as an art-deco fancy perfume bottle.

Conclusion:

It was the last and it wasn’t even close. The 40 percent ABV meant that the water somehow took control of the entire flavor profile and left a faint idea of ​​what the whiskey might have been in those barrels.

It was just… so disappointing.

4. Bourbon FIGURES – Taste 4

Bourbon FIGURES
Savage & Cooke

ABV: 46%

Average price: $ 70

The Whiskey:

This bottle is a collaboration between Bulls superstar Scottie Pippen and Napa wine superstar Dave Phinney. The juice is an original five-year-old whiskey distilled in Tennessee, possibly somewhere which rhymes with “Tacoma”, alongside MGP whiskey from Indiana. The barrels are sent to Mare Island, off the coast of San Francisco, where they continue to age before vatting, fermentation and bottling.

Conclusion:

It’s miles from the bottle above. There is a real sense of a well-built whiskey here which oddly starts out a bit thin but builds up to a very solid finish. I could see using it in cocktails very easily, but I’m not sure if it’s quite sip, as the price suggests.

3. Wild turkey long branch – Taste 3

Screen Shot 2020 12 02 at 10.18.42 AM
Wild turkey

ABV: 43%

Average price: 40 $

The Whiskey:

A few years ago, Wild Turkey hired Matthew McConaughey to be the brand’s creative director and design his own whiskey. The product of this partnership was launched in 2018. The juice is a very unique whiskey for Wild Turkey, thanks to the Texas Mesquite carbon filtration that the hot juice passes through. The bourbon then passes in oak barrels for eight long years before being reassembled and bottled.

Conclusion:

I think it could have won that day if the first part (nose and mouth opening) had been more daring. This dram ends surprisingly but you kind of have to force yourself to get there. Still, it’s pretty solid once you get past the first act.

2. Bradshaw Bourbon – Taste 5

Brandshaw bourbon
Bradshaw Bourbon LLC

ABV: 51.9%

Average price: $ 52

The Whiskey:

Bradshaw Bourbon is manufactured by Green River Distilling Company in Owensboro, Kentucky. Bourbon (and now rye) is a collaboration between former Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw and the Silver Screen Bottling Company, which acts as a sort of bottling fixer between a celebrity and a still or barrel. The juice is a two-year-old bourbon made from 70% corn, 21% rye and 9% malted barley. It is proven to be a hefty 103.8.

Conclusion:

It really stood out. This moment of aftershave on the nose upset me a bit (it’s not too much out of left field) but made perfect sense with all the experience. Then the palate really burst like a very classic Kentucky bourbon. There were no big bells or whistles, but there was no need for them. It looked like a really solid ‘table bourbon’ that you could sip on rocks or throw in a cocktail and you’ll be fine.

1. Heaven’s Door Redbreast Edition – Taste 2

Screen Shot 2021 06 21 at 1.48.52 PM
The gates of paradise

ABV: 50%

Average price: $ 115 ($ 99 MSRP)

The Whiskey:

This whiskey is the result of a collaboration between Heaven’s Door Master Blender Ryan Perry and legendary Redbreast Master Blender Billy Leighton. The duo have worked long and hard to create several whiskey expressions, which Bob Dylan has tested and approved. The juice in the bottle is Heaven Door 10 Year Old Low Rye Tennessee Bourbon. They take this whiskey and put it in Redbreast whiskey casks that had previously aged Irish whiskey for 12 years. After 15 months of final maturation, these barrels are vatted and slightly pumped up with fresh Tennessee spring water.

Conclusion:

Nothing came close to that. It’s complex, accessible, pronounced, nuanced. There is a real depth that makes sense and that welcomes you. It’s the winner by a country mile. I wanted to go back immediately. Considering that Dylan actually helps select the casks and works with the blend, I have to think he has a hell of a whiskey palate.

Part 3: Final thoughts

Bourbon Celebrity
Zach johnston

I think I would have been shocked if Heaven’s Door hadn’t won. The majority of their range is made up of fairly fine whiskey in all areas. Still, when I saw that Bradshaw Bourbon was my second place pick, I was shocked. I wrote this bottle like “Terry probably just put his name on a bottle.” That’s not quite true, it’s part of the process, in theory. It paves the way for the brand and has a long history of barrel peaks dating back a long way. It shows in this whiskey because it feels like it was made by someone who loves bourbon.

For me, the Longbranch was the breaking point. This whiskey ended so well that it looked like a real shift from “shit” to “okay” to “very nice” in this range. Still, I wanted a bit higher and the top just wasn’t there.

When it comes to Scottie Pippen’s bourbon, my best summary is, “yeah, that’s bourbon.” It just left me a little cold tasting it and now thinking about it. I don’t really see myself going back to it.

Finally, there’s Drake. Sorry, but other than the cool perfume bottle, it was “meh” at best and “try again, folks” at worst. Event 80 let too much water take over and very little was left.

I guess that means Bob Dylan remains the GOAT in more ways than one.

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