A handful of annual-release whiskeys out there have me longing to see what the next one brings. I don’t mean the standard-bearers out there that’s pretty much the same whiskey year after year, just offered at varying proofs. Instead, I’m talking about the ones you never know what to expect because something different is done each time.
One such whiskey is Blood Oath Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Lux Row Distillers produces the whiskey under the creative mind of master distiller John Rempe. Each release is called a Pact. The 2022 incarnation is Pact 8. I’ve reviewed most of the Pacts, and no two are even close to alike.
“I’ve once again sourced three great Bourbons for Blood Oath Pact 8, and I’m particularly excited to include a Bourbon finished in Calvados casks. The Calvados cask will bring additional tasting notes characterized by slight apple on the nose, with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, as well as flavor notes of ripe apples, juicy pears, butterscotch, and even subtle hints of chocolate. Blood Oath Pact 8 is a Bourbon I’m proud to share with Bourbon lovers, but the recipe is a secret I’ll be keeping to myself.” – John Rempe
If you’re unfamiliar with Calvados, that’s a brandy made from apples or pears from France’s Normandy region. The fruits are made into a cider, then distilled and aged for at least two years in oak.
While it carries no age statement, Rempe does disclose its components are 14-year, 11-year, and 8-year rye Bourbons. The latter is the one finished in Calvados casks. After blending, the concoction is bottled at 98.6°. Every Pact is packaged at that particular proof – that’s the temperature of human blood!
There are a total of 51,000 bottles available. In the seven-year history of Blood Oath, each 750ml package was $99.99. Like everything else in 2022, inflation reared its ugly head, and Pact 8 will set you back $119.99. That’s a 20% increase; however, Pacts 5, 6, and 7 could easily have been valued above their stated MSRPs, and no one would complain.
We’re left with two questions: Is Pact 8 any good?; and, Is Pact 8 worth the premium? The only way to answer either is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank Lux Row Distillers for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was a brilliant copper. A thinner rim offered wide tears that crawled back to the pool.
Nose: Apple and pear presented as promised. Milk chocolate, like a Hershey bar, came next. Nutmeg, vanilla, and toasted oak followed. As I drew the air into my mouth, cinnamon apple rolled across my tongue.
Palate: Blood Oath greeted me with a cool, buttery texture. I’ve had Calvados before, and everything I’ve ever tasted was in the mix. The front featured dry pear, bittersweet apple, and green apple. Vanilla and a massive punch of very dark chocolate formed the middle. The back was a spice bomb with dry oak, clove, and cinnamon Red Hots.
Finish: Dry, French oak, cinnamon apple, and likely the most prominent clove note I’ve had made for a long-lasting, warm finish. Blood Oath Pact 8 doesn’t drink hotter than its stated proof, but the spice could trick you into believing otherwise. When I thought all was said and done, the bittersweet apple came for an encore.
With Water: Pact 8 made me curious about what two drops of distilled water would do. The apple and pear on the nose became sweeter. Cinnamon remained, but the chocolate notes vanished. The apple went from bittersweet to bitter on the palate, with oak and clove spice. The Red Hots were gone, as was the dark chocolate. The French oak became more prominent on the finish, but the apple and pear sweetened. I wouldn't recommend dropping the proof. Things were not complex; they were confusing.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: If you’re into sweeter Bourbons, then Blood Oath Pact 8 is one you should frankly avoid because you’re not going to find anything here that caters to your palate. However, if you appreciate spicy, high-rye Bourbons, Pact 8 may be your Holy Grail. Thankfully, I am happy with either direction. A bonus is that you’ll nurse this year’s release, making that $119.99 investment last longer than usual. In the 2022 Bourbon world, I am not turned off by the higher price. At $99.99, it would have been an absolute steal. At MSRP, I believe you’ll walk away happy, and for that, Pact 8 snags 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 do so responsibly.