2024 Penelope Trio - Toasted Batch 24-301, Architect Build 10, Cask Strength Batch 18


Two childhood friends, Mike Paladini and Daniel Polise, along with Mike's wife, Kerry, went into business together and created their own brand of Bourbon. Mike and Kerry were expecting a child and knew they wanted to name their daughter Penelope. That inspired them to name their brand Penelope Bourbon


Penelope Bourbon earns kudos from me with its comprehensive transparency. Penelope makes no secret that it is distilled by MGP. It partners with Speyside Cooperage to source casks for its various oak finishes. Penelope’s whiskeys were initially blended and bottled at Castle & Key Distillery. However, those operations have since moved to Bardstown Bourbon Company.


Then, in May 2023, 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, I will explore three selections from the 2024 Penelope Bourbon lineup: Toasted Bourbon Batch 24-301, Architect Build 10, and Barrel Strength Batch 18.


In full disclosure, Penelope Bourbon has been hit-and-miss with me. There are some that I have found fascinating, while others have created disappointment.


Before we dive deep and #DrinkCurious, I must take a moment to thank Penelope Bourbon for providing me with these samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.   


Toasted Bourbon Batch 24-301


  • Age: 4 years
  • Mashbill: 74% corn, 21% rye, 5% malted barley
  • Cooperage: 53-gallon new, #5-charred oak, heavily toasted barrels
  • Alcohol Content: 50% ABV (100°)
  • Price: $69.99 for a non-chill filtered 750ml package


Appearance: A neat pour into my Glencairn glass revealed a bright orange-amber Bourbon. A thick rim formed; it jettisoned a curtain of thick tears.


Nose: The aroma included a heavy waft of orange rind. Next were corn, butter pecan, and toasted oak. Inside my mouth, the air was reminiscent of dry oak.


Palate: The thin, oily texture led to orange zest, corn, and dry earth on the front of my palate. The middle offered cherries, nutmeg, and cocoa. The back included clove, old leather, and black pepper.


Finish: Penelope Toasted Bourbon had a finish that wouldn’t quit. A brief kiss of cherries remained, then it was all leather, toasted oak, nutmeg, clove, and black pepper. 


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I was not a fan of Penelope Toasted Batch 23-304. It was way too woody for my liking. I honestly expected Batch 24-301 to follow suit. Instead, I was treated to a pleasant-tasting, flavorful, well-balanced Bourbon that I’m happy to toss my Bottle rating at. 




Architect Build 10


Penelope Bourbon suggests that the Architect series is a “blueprint” for its whiskey blending.

  • Age: 4 years
  • Mashbill: A blend of three different MGP distillates
    • 51% corn, 45% wheat, 4% malted barley
    • 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
    • 99% corn, 1% malted barley
    • Overall – 75% corn, 15% wheat, 7% rye, 3% malted barley
  • Cooperage: 53-gallon new, #4-charred oak barrels with #2-charred oak heads, then finished six weeks in Delicate and Intense French oak staves
  • Alcohol Content: 52% ABV (104°)
  • Price: $64.99 for a non-chill filtered 750ml package


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into my Glencairn glass to sample neat. The golden liquid produced a thin rim with wavy, thick tears.


Nose: Architect Build 10 smelled of flan, roses, and lightly toasted oak. Inhaling through my lips brought notes of caramel.


Palate: The airy, thin mouthfeel creates tastes of corn, vanilla, and bold oak. At mid-palate, I found nutmeg, fennel, and coffee. The back offered flavors of caramel, orange peel, and cocoa.


Finish: Medium-to-long in duration, the finish included corn, vanilla, French oak, cocoa, coffee, and fennel.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I thought Architect Build 7 was my favorite whiskey out of Penelope. The differences between Builds 7 and 10 were astounding. The former had very mild herbal notes, whereas the latter heavily featured those. They mellowed somewhat on the back and finish but were still like an uncontrolled stampede.


I wouldn’t say that I disliked Build 10, but I can say I was disappointed. If you like dominant herbal qualities in your Bourbon, you’ll enjoy it. You should try this one at a Bar before pulling the trigger for the whole bottle.




Barrel Strength Batch 18


  • Age: 4 years
  • Mashbill: A blend of three different MGP distillates
    • 51% corn, 45% wheat, 4% malted barley
    • 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
    • 99% corn, 1% malted barley
    • Overall – 74% corn, 16% wheat, 7% rye, 3% malted barley
  • Cooperage: 53-gallon new, #4-charred oak barrels and #2-charred oak heads
  • Alcohol Content: 57% ABV (114°)
  • Price: $64.99 for a non-chill filtered 750ml package


Appearance: I poured this cask strength Bourbon into a Glencairn glass to sip neat. Inside the glass, the liquid was brassy and formed a thick rim with lightning-fast, thick tears.


Nose: As I sniffed, I could pick out chocolate, caramel, a touch of honey, berry fruits, and oak. Drawing the air through my lips, I encountered caramel and barrel char.


Palate: The Bourbon’s mouthfeel was thin and oily. It warmed the tip of my tongue but not the rest of my mouth. Brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple were on the front of my palate. The middle featured vanilla, barrel char, and caramel. The back suggested charred oak, cherries, and clove.    


Finish: Long and lingering, the cinnamon, clove, and charred oak stuck around while caramel and cherries faded early.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Barrel Strength Batch 18 was crazily disjointed. It had wild swings from sweet to spicy to back to sweet. Yet, for whatever reason, it worked because it held my attention while trying to make sense of it. Despite the proof, it was mostly an easy sipper, yet the tip of my tongue held onto the spice notes and “felt” hot. It is an intriguing, tasty Bourbon, and for $65.00, I’m happy to have a Bottle in my whiskey library.




Final Thoughts: I mentioned in my review of Architect Build 10 that Build 7 may have been my favorite Penelope to date. That can be replaced by Cask Strength Batch 18. I was shocked by how these batches (or Builds, depending on the expression) change release over release. The Toasted Barrel changed my mind from my previous experiences.


This whole experience raised my expectations for future Penelope releases. 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.