Reviewed By: @MCRBourbon
Whiskey Name: Rebel Yell Single Barrel
Distillery: Heaven Hill (for Luxco)
Whiskey Type: Wheated Bourbon
Release Date: September 2016
Age: 10 Years
Mashbill: No definitive information but likely to be standard Heaven Hill wheated mashbill - 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley
Introduction / Background:
Here we have a ten-year-old, single barrel, wheated bourbon from Luxco’s Rebel Yell line of whiskeys. For anyone not immediately familiar with the Rebel Yell range, I’d describe the standard bottle as a distinctly average attempt at cheap, wheated bourbon. The range also includes a better, higher proof small-batch version, a rye whiskey and a few flavoured whiskies.
The Rebel Yell brand does have solid history, starting out at the much revered and now defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1949 as a bourbon marketed towards America’s southern states. The name ‘Rebel Yell’ apparently comes from the sound Confederate soldiers used as their war cry in the American Civil War. Should you want to hear this for yourself, there’s a pretty interesting old video on YouTube here: https://goo.gl/lqPcTT
Anyway, Luxco (who now own the brand) decided that they would release a single barrel, ten year age-stated version in limited quantities this year. With Luxco not yet being a distiller themselves, they have sourced this whiskey from (in all probability) Heaven Hill. I managed to grab one from America as we haven’t seen it over here in the UK for general release yet.
This bourbon comes in a nice cardboard box inside a pretty cool looking transparent bottle with screen printed white text as well as a label with handwritten information as to the distillation date and barrel number, in this case September 2005 and 4744165 respectively.
There’s a fair bit of marketing spiel on the bottle itself, which milks the self-declared rebellious nature of this whiskey to the max, my personal pick of the bunch being ‘ARE YOU REBEL ENOUGH?’. I guess it’s time to find out.
Bright amber, slightly more pale than I’d expect for a 10 year old at this proof.
The nose gives this away as a Heaven Hill wheater. It’s very similar to Very Special Old Fitzgerald in the way that it’s dominated by earthy oak. Of course, there is vanilla but there’s also some cigar tobacco and cedar. Cherry and some more subtle touches of blackcurrant and raspberries linger along with a slightly tart twang in my nostrils. A very feint hint of smoked wood is also present.
Nose Score: 4
The wheat in this bourbon really brings out the sweetness of the charred oak. It feels smooth and silky and is an absolute pleasure to drink. A lot of what was going on in the nose is now coming through in abundance. Salted caramel and peanuts have made a very welcome appearance, which I had mistakenly caught as the earthy oak when nosing the glass. The proof feels just right and could allow you to guzzle a fair bit of this whiskey in no time at all.
Mouth Score: 4.5
A medium to long finish that makes you want to take another sip. Again, I find that the balance of the alcohol content is enough to keep me warm inside but miles away from being over bearing. There’s nothing not to like here except that I’d maybe want it to last longer but, like a great three minute pop song, maybe that’s part of what keeps me wanting more. Caramel, brown sugar and vanilla dominate initially before fading away to oak and tobacco. Cedar or slightly bitter oak finish off without becoming dry.
Finish Score: 4
Value For Money:
When you consider that this is priced around the fifty dollar mark in America, I think that is fantastic value for a single barrel, ten year age stated, wheated bourbon that tastes great. There’s a lot of hype around wheaters and I think they could have priced this a bit higher and still not had me complain.
Value for Money Score: 5
I opened this particular bottle at the British Bourbon Society’s AGM earlier this year. It went down a treat and the quality of it’s contents surprised us. It’s ridiculously easy to drink as we got through over half of the bottle and I really hope that they repeat this release at equivalent standards, as the rumours suggest they may.
In terms of what this is competing with, you really only have Old Rip Van Winkle 10 and the two higher end Wellers, W.L Weller 12 and Old Weller Antique. These are three very good bourbons but they’re also becoming much harder to come across for anything other that ridiculous secondary prices. At our AGM, there was talk of this being an Old Rip Van Winkle 10 killer, I did a side by side tasting and found the Van Winkle to be better overall but it was close. The flavour profile in the Rebel Yell is different from the Buffalo Trace wheaters and I certainly think it holds it’s own against them. Hopefully, if they release another batch, we’ll see it over here in the UK and if it’s priced similarly to the American release, I’ll be stocking up.
Overall Score: 17.5/20