Old Stubborn Cask Strength Wheated Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Rising Tide Spirits is a non-distilling producer (NDP) brand only a few years old. Its name comes from the adage, “A rising tide raises all ships,” which is the philosophy of its founder, Ed Bley. That’s what Ed does; he tries to make the world a better place with everything he touches, and it goes well beyond the Wonderful World of Whiskey. He is a philanthropist and a former MA for a neurosurgeon who takes the time to get to know everyone he interacts with. There’s nothing phony about him; what you see is what you get.


And what you get is a man with an incredible, well-respected palate. In only four years, he’s picked over 250 barrels for the famed Covington, Kentucky’s Cork N’ Bottle, making him the #1 private barrel customer in 2017 for Wild Turkey worldwide with 21 barrels selected. Ed has built a following and has blended some of the most coveted Bourbons, including Old Baldy and Old Baldy 2.


In 2018, he created Rising Tide Spirits. Ed has no desire to distill; he leaves that to the distillers and enjoys working with them and their creations to perform his magic.


Rising Tide’s first release is Old Stubborn Wheated Bourbon. Old Stubborn is made from 10-, 11-, and 13-year pot-distilled wheated Bourbons from an undisclosed West Virginia distillery. Eleven barrels were in the blend, with an almost even makeup between the ages. It is non-chill filtered and weighs in at 61.9% ABV (123.8°).


“It’s been a long time coming. There were many opportunities to rush a release, and just get another bourbon onto the overcrowded market. In some ways, it would have been easier to just give in and settle for something, just to get it done. 

But people call us stubborn. Some things are worth waiting for, some principles are worth committing to. Sometimes you have acknowledge age old traditions and methods that honor being patient.” – Rising Tide Spirits


The yield was 1500 bottles, and distribution was made to Seelbach’s, The Bourbon Concierge, Shared Pour, and Revival Vintage Bottle Shop in Covington. A 750ml package has a suggested price of $249.99.


In full disclosure, Ed provided me with a sample of Old Stubborn in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. I’m grateful, and now it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this is all about.


Appearance: I poured Old Stubborn into my Glencairn glass and sipped it neat. The liquid inside was deep and dark, a burnt umber with a red hue. A husky rim formed and stuck to the wall like glue. A bit of patience allowed slow, syrupy tears to fall.


Nose: A flow of vanilla escaped the glass. What followed were cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder, and ripe berries. As I drew the air through my lips, I tasted thick nougat.


Palate: Old Stubborn’s texture was thin and dry. The front of my palate encountered ancient leather, dates, and coconut. There were flavors of chocolate, dried strawberries, and vanilla at mid-palate. The back offered oak, nutmeg, and black pepper.


Finish: Old Stubborn has a finish that is… well… stubborn. It slowly cranked up flavors in my mouth and the back of my throat, and then it lumbered along. It was like window shopping; it would move a bit, pause, move some more, and then slow down. It lasted several minutes before finally falling off. What stuck around were leather, tobacco, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, dates, and an almost fossilized oak.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Some folks like whiskeys they can mindlessly drink while conversing, watching the game, etc. If that’s you, then don’t bother with Old Stubborn. On the other hand, if your jam involves appreciating the layers and depths that a whiskey can offer, Old Stubborn will rock your world. Me? I’m in that latter camp. Old Stubborn is expensive, but the price seems less of a big deal once you start exploring it. It is delicious, mesmerizing, and just damned great.


Old Stubborn is a one-and-gone Bourbon; it won’t be repeated or re-released (there will be other releases under the label but each will be unique). If you can get your hands on one, a Bottle is worth picking up. 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.