The backstory of some whiskey brands is simple enough and uncluttered. While it is fun to have some romantic tale espousing how someone was cleaning out the attic of their ancestral home, only to stumble upon great-great-great grandpappy’s super secret sippin’ whiskey recipe tucked behind a broken mirror, almost every one of those stories is tales all right – tall ones at that!
Today’s adventure takes us to Utah, where Michael Sawyer and some of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers attended a leadership summit for its undergraduate members. They wanted to do something special, to do some good in the world – and to produce an incredible Bourbon in the process. The idea became SK Spirits. Aside from its whiskey concept, the SK Spirits Foundation takes its profits and puts them to work educating undergraduates on responsible alcohol consumption. SK Spirits is located in Louisville, Kentucky.
But how do you get there if you aren’t doing the actual distilling?
“I have sampled hundreds of whiskies from many different distilleries over the years to train my senses to recognize a truly great whiskey. John Parrott is a true example of what I like in my Bourbon. Caramel, Honey, and Vanilla with a touch of leather and oak. A truly balanced bourbon with a long finish and warm hug. I hope you enjoy this expression as much as I do!” – Michael Sawyer, CEO and Lead Rectifier
The original plan was to blend ten MGP-sourced Bourbons that matured for 6 years and 8 months. However, the result wasn’t anything Sawyer found overly impressive. That led him to two barrels of 6-year Bourbon from Whiskey Thief Distillery, which was then married to the original batch. The result was something Sawyer could be proud of, and hence, John Parrott Batch #1 was born.
Hold on a second; who was John Parrott? Simply put, he was the first initiated member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He wasn't a founder, he was the first to be invited to join after its founding in 1855. He passed away in 1864 due to his service in the Civil War. He and his father are buried in Dayton, Ohio.
John Parrott Batch #1 is distilled from a mashbill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. It is packaged at 54% ABV (108°) and has a suggested price of $185.50 for a 750ml bottle. The price is a hat-tip to the founding of Sigma Chi while providing meaningful funding for the Foundation's work. The Bourbon can be ordered directly from its website and shipped to 42 states.
Before I get to my tasting notes and rating, I must thank SK Spirits for providing me with a sample of John Parrott Batch #1 in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. And now, it is time to #DrinkCurious!
Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass, intending to sip it neat. Inside, the liquid looked like honey with an orange hue. A thicker rim formed wavy, slow tears.
Nose: This Bourbon’s aroma consisted of corn, caramel, cherry, orange peel, and toasted oak. I also smelled milk chocolate. When I pulled the air through my lips, thick caramel crossed my tongue.
Palate: I’ve come across some thick, creamy mouthfeels before, but John Parrott Batch #1 may be one of the weightiest, and with each subsequent sip, it seemed to gain more mass. The front of my palate encountered charred oak, raw honey, and caramel. I tasted cinnamon spice, English toffee, and tobacco as it moved to the middle. Flavors of nutmeg, clove, and allspice sat on the back.
Finish: The finish was warm, spicy, and long-lasting. Clove, allspice, barrel char, tobacco, and sweetened slightly with caramel remained.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The most attractive quality of John Parrott Batch #1 is its texture. That’s not meant to discount this Bourbon’s smell or taste; instead, that mouthfeel was, simply put, unique. The sweet, spicy, and savory flavors meshed well and seemed complimentary. At 108°, it was a surprisingly easy sipper. Could John Parrott pass for an older whiskey? Absolutely.
The question becomes, is this a $185.00+ Bourbon? It is six years old, and while delicious, that’s a hefty investment. I still find it challenging to spend close to $200.00 for a younger Bourbon. Yet, with what people are willing to pay for lesser, over-hyped American whiskeys (cough, cough – Blanton’s – cough, cough) these days, maybe it isn’t out of line. I’ll say this much – it is far better than any version of Blanton’s I’ve ever had (including Black, Green, Gold, and SFTB). Then there's that charity aspect. So, if we compare apples to apples, John Parrott Batch #1 deserves my Bottle rating. 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.