Old Stubborn Straight Bourbon (v2) 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. You can read more about Ed and his Old Stubborn Wheated Bourbon by visiting my January review.  


Rising Tide’s second release is Old Stubborn Bourbon. Old Stubborn is made from 10-, 11-, and 13-year pot-distilled traditional rye Bourbons from an undisclosed West Virginia distillery (rumored to be Smooth Ambler Spirits). Old Stubborn is non-chill filtered and weighs in at 61.9% ABV (123.8°), which, incidentally, is the same proof as Old Stubborn Wheated.


“People say life is long. It’s not long enough to settle for less than the best. If it takes a little longer, if our lack of urgency has rubbed some folks the wrong way, if we seem a little stubborn in our pursuit - well, we’ve been called worse.” – Rising Tide Spirits


The yield was 1430 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.


Ed provided me with a sample of Old Stubborn in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review. I’m thankful for that; let’s #DrinkCurious and taste how it stands up to the first.


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass, intending to sip it neat. Having learned from the wheated version, I let it breathe for about 10 minutes before analysis. Inside, the Bourbon appeared a deep, rich, mahogany color. A thick rim held tightly to droplets that eventually broke free.


Nose: Despite my attempts to ignore this whiskey, its fragrance wafted across the room. I smelled cherries and plums, followed by milk chocolate and old cedar. There was a dusting of cinnamon along with caramel. When I inhaled through my lips, I found dark chocolate.  


Palate: Old Stubborn’s mouthfeel was surprisingly airy and fiery with the first sip. After the palate shock, I found it still thin, but much of the heat dissipated. The front began with rye spice, vanilla, and cherries, which reminded me of Mr. Pibb. The middle featured caramel, pecan pralines, and dark chocolate. I tasted cinnamon, dry oak, and tobacco on the back.


Finish: Old Stubborn’s finish was, pardon the description, stubborn. It refused to go away. It lumbered like a freight train, slowly passing through a densely populated city. There was dark chocolate, rye spice, cinnamon, ancient oak, and clove. There were occasional interruptions of plums and cherries. It left my mouth tingling; the proof was evident.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Old Stubborn is not a smart pour if you’re in a rush to drink your whiskey because, quite frankly, you’re going to say “screw it” to whatever plans you have once you start your sipping experience.


Have you ever seen Disney’s Fantasia? Old Stubborn draws you in with its color, captures your imagination with the aroma, and hooks you with its taste and finish. Ed proves once again that he’s no slouch when it comes to picking barrels for blending. It is one of those whiskeys where you don’t even care what it costs – you just want it. And that, my friends, is what Bottle ratings are made of. 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.