Penelope Toasted Batch 23-304 Toasted Barrel Finished Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Mike Paladini and Daniel Polise, childhood friends, teamed up with Mike's wife, Kerry, to start their own Bourbon brand. As they were expecting a baby girl, they planned to name Penelope; they chose to name their Bourbon brand Penelope Bourbon in honor of their future daughter.


Penelope Bourbon has impressed me with its remarkable transparency. It shares that it sources its distillate from MGP and collaborates with Speyside Cooperage to acquire casks for its oak finishes. Initially, Penelope's whiskeys were blended and bottled at Castle & Key Distillery, but now its operations have shifted to Bardstown Bourbon Company. The brand's commitment to transparency is commendable and speaks volumes about its integrity.


Then, in May this year, Penelope Bourbon was acquired by Luxco, MGP’s consumer-facing subsidiary.


“MGP has been an incredible partner of ours since we started our business in 2018. We are excited to take our partnership to the next level with the goal of accelerating Penelope’s growth for years to come.” - Michael Paladini


“Since our initial product launch in 2019, it has been amazing to watch consumers embrace our brand. We look forward to expanding our partnership with MGP and building on our legacy.” - Daniel Polise


Today’s review is for Penelope Toasted Straight Bourbon, specifically Batch 23-304. Penelope states, “The Toasted Series explores the depth and complexity different char and toast levels have on our flavor profile. After full maturation, we finish straight Bourbon whiskey in a new, freshly toasted barrel.”


Before the whiskey hits wood, it starts with a mashbill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley distilled by MGP. Batch 23-304 rested for five years in new, charred oak barrels, then was transferred to new, #2-charred, honey-toasted oak barrels. Packaged at 50% ABV (100°), it is non-chill filtered and has a suggested price of $69.99.


I acquired this bottle of Penelope Toasted from a friend in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover how this one tastes.


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. Inside, the liquid was the color of rust. I could not get a rim to form; instead, it left a jagged line of fat droplets that crawled back into the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: I smelled popcorn, nutmeg, candied orange rind, fennel, and smoky oak. When I inhaled through my lips, I tasted caramel and oak.


Palate: Pelenope Toasted’s texture was thin, and the whiskey possessed a spicy heft. The front of my palate tasted vanilla, caramel, and orange zest. Midway through, I tasted nutmeg, raw oak, and cocoa. The back offered leather and smoky charred oak with an earthy quality some might mistake for mild peat.


Finish: The raw oak plowed over everything, making it challenging to pluck anything else. Dry cocoa was joined by fresh leather and smoke. It had a medium-long finish.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I love peated whiskeys and am happy with influences from very soft to the peatiest on Earth and everything in between. While Penelope Toasted isn’t peated, it tasted like the charring and toasting tried to bury raw oak in the process. It bordered on offensive, and it isn’t a Penelope thing because I really enjoyed Architect Build No. 7. It isn’t a toasted barrel finish thing because I savor what other distilleries do. At least for Batch 23-304, Penelope Toasted is a hard pass, and I have no option but to rate it a Bust. 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 to do so responsibly.