A handful of annual-release whiskeys out there have me longing to see what the next brings. I don’t mean the standard-bearers out there that’s pretty much the same whiskey year after year, just offered at varying proofs. Instead, I’m talking about the ones you never know what to expect because something different is done each time.
One such whiskey is Blood Oath Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Lux Row Distillers produces this whiskey under the creative mind of Master Distiller and Master Blender John Rempe. Each release is called a Pact. The 2023 version is Pact 9 and was finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. I’ve reviewed most Pacts, and no two are even close to alike.
You may wonder what Oloroso Sherry is. Like every other Sherry, it is a Spanish-fortified wine aged via a Solera system. Oloroso is made from palomino grapes and is typically bold and dry. Oloroso is the most commonly used for the maturation or finishing of all the Sherry casks. Oloroso tends to impart nutty and fruity qualities to the whisky.
“Blood Oath Pact 9 contains three great Bourbons, and the Oloroso Sherry cask finish has resulted in deep, dark amber liquid with long legs. The Oloroso Sherry casks also bring out tasting notes of sweet Sherry with hints of ripe fruit on the nose, as well as flavor notes highlighted by ripe fruits, including figs, plums, and raisins, with notes of molasses, chocolate, and tobacco. This Bourbon also provides a long-lasting finish characterized by fruit notes and complemented by hints of spicy oak. I’m proud to share Blood Oath Pact 9 with Bourbon lovers.” – John Rempe
While this whiskey carries no age statement, Rempe does disclose its components are 16-year, 12-year, and 7-year ryed Bourbons. The latter is the one exposed to the Sherry casks. After blending, the concoction is bottled at 98.6°. Every Pact is packaged at that particular proof – that’s the temperature of human blood!
There are a total of 51,000 bottles available. Lux Row plans to release a Trilogy Pack release (Pacts 7, 8, and 9) sometime in 2024 and will hold back about 1400 bottles. You can expect to pay about $129.99 for a 750ml package, representing an 8% price increase over Pact 8 (thank you, inflation).
Before I do the #DrinkCurious thing, I must thank Lux Row Distillers for providing me with a sample of Pact 9 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: I sipped this whiskey neat from my Glencairn glass. It presented as a deep orange amber that formed a thin rim and syrupy tears.
Nose: I smelled plum, fig, cherry, and spiced nuts from the Sherry influence, with vanilla and oak from the Bourbon. Inhaling the aroma through my lips offered tastes of date and oak.
Palate: The mouthfeel was silky and carried a medium weight. I encountered plum, cherry, and date on the front of my palate. I found brown sugar, dark chocolate, and roasted almond at mid-palate. The back featured rye spice, pipe tobacco, and charred oak.
Finish: Fruity flavors of cherry, plum, and date melded with spicy oak notes, clove, and cinnamon. The sweetness fell off while the spice notes stuck around. Everything was mellowed by a wave of chocolate. The finish was warm and lingering long after all the flavors vanished.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: My experience is that, mostly, the Blood Oath Pacts get better each year. There have been exceptions. Pact 9 offers plenty of fruit and a plethora of spice. It is well-balanced as the Sherry characteristics complement the Bourbon base. Is it worth an extra $10.00 over Pact 8?
One of the things I have to sit down and mull over is that everything has been more expensive since the end of COVID. So, while I’d say this is a $120 whiskey, the 8% bump really isn’t a big deal. I loved this Bourbon. You will, too. Buy a Bottle; you won’t be disappointed. And, yes, I'm looking forward to whatever Pact 10 has to offer. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.