Blue Run Spirits High Rye Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Every so often, something extraordinary happens. Back in the day, at Four Roses Distillery, before Brent Elliott, there was Jim Rutledge. I had the pleasure of meeting him during a barrel pick in 2013 – in fact, it was my very first barrel pick. He’s a super nice guy. He’s also one hell of a talented distiller.

However, we’re not talking about Four Roses today. Instead, we’re exploring Blue Run Spirits. Jim is referred to as its Liquid Advisor. He’s joined by Shaylyn Gammon, who holds the title of Whiskey Director. Before Shaylyn worked with Jim, she worked with Jimmy Russell, the legendary master distiller at Wild Turkey. She was one of the forces behind its 17-year Master’s Keep.


In the case of today’s whiskey, Blue Run High Rye Bourbon, Jim did what he does best – he was the contracted master distiller. He did so at the famed Castle & Key Distillery.


“As we celebrate our one-year anniversary as a company, we wanted to release something that really made a statement and honored the deep traditions of whiskey making. The legendary Jim Rutledge helped us craft a bold, spicy Bourbon that, even at 111 proof, is incredibly sippable, with a pronounced, memorable finish. We are very excited to see how these barrels evolve over time for subsequent bottlings.” – Mike Montgomery, CEO and cofounder


The bourbon was derived from a mash of 65% yellow corn, 30% rye, and 5% malted barley. It rested in #4 new-charred oak barrels in Frankfort and Bardstown for an undisclosed period. Because it carries no age statement, we know that each of the 100 barrels selected for this batch is at least four years old. The 55.5% ABV (111°) whiskey has a suggested price of $99.99.


You’ll notice something interesting. The whiskey is at least four years old. Blue Run Spirits is only a year old. I’m not sure how the planets aligned to bring everything together; I’m admittedly excited about this #DrinkCurious adventure.


First, I must thank Blue Run Spirits for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I poured this Bourbon into a Glencairn glass intending to sip it neat. Its color was deep caramel. The thin, jagged rim produced a curtain of quick, fat tears.


Nose: As I brought my glass to my nostrils and sniffed, I encountered orange zest, dark cherries, intense vanilla, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. When I took the vapor into my mouth, candied nuts rolled across my tongue.


Palate: I took my first sip and found myself smacking my tongue against the roof of my mouth (as well as my lips). The silky texture introduced the front of my palate to cherry pie filling, vanilla, and brown sugar. At mid-palate, I tasted apricots, plums, and cinnamon spice. Flavors of white pepper, bold rye spice, and barrel char were on the back.


Finish: Blue Run High Rye Bourbon possessed an enduring finish of white pepper, cherries, apricots, rye spice, and barrel char.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The spices were warming, but this Bourbon drank closer to something ten points lower. There were no muted flavors; picking them out was effortless. Yet, as vivid as each was, they meshed together without dominating one another.


I would rather sip what Jim distills versus what he blends. I was underwhelmed with Cream of Kentucky and some of his other blending projects. 


However, Blue Run High Rye Bourbon shines the spotlight on Jim’s talent. It was reminiscent of the OBSO and OESO recipes when he ran things at Four Roses. Is it worth the C-note? It is, in a word, delicious. I’d pay a little more for a Bottle if I saw one on the shelf. 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.