Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Penelope Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

When a selling point of a whiskey is how many calories a pour contains, that becomes an interesting marketing campaign. Most brands want to tell you how old the whiskey is, or that it is high-proof, or that it has a certain ingredient in the mash bill, or it has a history steeped in someone's grandpappy's grandpappy eluding the revenuers, or something else along those lines. But, in all the years I've been enjoying whiskey, I don't believe a conversation has ever come up with How many calories are in this pour? 

Two childhood friends, Mike Paladini and Danny Polise, along with Mike's wife, Kerry, went into business together and created their own brand of Bourbon. Mike and Kerry were expecting a child and knew they wanted to name their daughter Penelope. That inspired them for the name of their brand:  Penelope Bourbon.  

Penelope Bourbon earns kudos from me with its very broad transparency.  Penelope makes no secrets that it is distilled by MGP and then blended and bottled at Castle Key Distillery. What Penelope does differently than your standard, sourced Bourbon is it created a four-grain straight Bourbon by blending three different MGP mashbills utilizing corn, rye, wheat, and barley. All the whiskeys are aged in #4 char barrels with #2 char heads, and then aged between two and three years, giving it a 24-month age statement.  Penelope Bourbon is non-chill filtered and bottled at 80°.  It has a suggested retail price of $34.99.

Oh yeah, a 1.5-ounce pour is only 100 calories.  I don't know how that compares to other Bourbons, and to be perfectly frank, I don't care. To me, the important qualities are nose, palate, and finish. And that, my friends, is where this review is going. Time to #DrinkCurious.

Appearance:  Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Penelope appears as a pleasant amber.  It left a thick rim on the wall that produced fast legs to drop back to the pool.

Nose:  Aromas of sweet cream, maple, and butterscotch.  It was also floral.  When I inhaled through my lips, muted apple came through. 

Palate:  At the first sip, the mouthfeel was thin and coating. It remained such afterward. There was nothing I could describe as harsh. The initial flavors of caramel, nuts, and corn were not overwhelming. At mid-palate, citrus, and chocolate, with oak the back. 

Finish:  The very short finish started with oak, corn, and grass before slipping into nothingness. No matter how many subsequent sips I took, the finish would not stick around. It produced no real warmth whatsoever.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The last time I called something a beginner's whiskey, I got an earful. But, I really don't know how else to describe this.  If I had someone who told me they didn't like Bourbon because of all the things that make Bourbon Bourbon, I'd definitely pour them Penelope. For them, it could be a game-changer. There's nothing offensive about Penelope, yet at the same time, there's nothing that makes it interesting, aside from the calorie statement. It is 80° and obviously so. I believe it is proofed down excessively, but again, if I'm a beginner, 80° is going to be inviting. This doesn't deserve a Bust because it isn't bad. If you're an experienced whiskey drinker, my recommendation is to try this one at a Bar first, especially considering the $35.00 price tag. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System:

  • Bottle = Buy it
  • Bar = Try it first
  • Bust = Leave it 

Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.

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