Backbone Bourbon is a company located in Kentucky that sources MGP distillate (Bourbon, Rye Whiskey, Light Whiskey and Wheat Whiskey) and either barrels it in their own custom barrels (I’ve seen 25, 30 and 53 gallon barrels used) or has MGP barrel it in their own barrels. They then age it in one of 3 different warehouses to include MGP’s own warehouses and then 2 different (unknown) locations in Kentucky.
I don’t know if the largest contributor to their sales are single barrels, but it sure feels like it. They’ve got a knack for sourcing great barrels and, if I’m being frank, the only thing keeping them off most people’s radar is that they use a very generic bottle. Even the labels on the bottles are unassuming. But those that know and love MGP, love their products. It is a very big secret in the world of whiskey.
Dep’s Store Pick
Today, I have a Dep’s store pick of Backbone Bourbon. Since a barrel size is not indicated on the bottle, I am to assume that it’s a standard 53 gallon barrel. I also do not know which bourbon mashbill that this one uses, but if I had to guess, it’s the high-rye (36%) MGP bourbon mashbill. However, the stats you’re all here for is that this bourbon clocks in at 135 proof and is just a tick under 3.5 years old. The age should be a warning sign, but I got the word from a good friend that this is an outstanding barrel. At around $58, this was right at my “take the risk” threshold, so I pulled the trigger while I was down in Northern Kentucky recently.
So how is it? I sat down and sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: The nose is incredibly deep. As might be expected with 135 proof, the amount of ethanol is decent, but not insurmountable. Those terrific MGP bourbon notes of dark brown sugar, heavy baking spices, caramelized pears and apples, buttered filo dough and toasted oak all really point to this being a great nose. We’re off to a good start.
Palate: 135 proof isn’t going to drink like Buffalo Trace, and this one proves it with a giant wallop of Fireball candies. This is spicy and hot and challenging, but in a fun way. There is lots of apple butter and cherry pie filling. What could’ve been a total mess of heat ends up being quite tasty and worth working past.
Finish: Buttery gingersnap cookies mingle with sweet mint, cinnamon, black pepper flakes and sweet oak. Of course, the always present cinnamon is there just to remind you of the heat it brings.
3.5 years old and it tastes like this?! This barrel may have been pulled too early! I can only imagine that in another 3 years, this would’ve been a HAZMAT short barrel with enough firepower to elevate it to legendary status. As it stands though, this was still no slouch. Intense, bold, rich. This bourbon had it all. It’s a testament to the ability of great tasters to pick this out of a pile of barrels who could’ve easily declared that the proof was too high. My mind is slowly changing in the regard that proof can sometimes make up for a lack of age. This isn’t always the truth, but this Dep’s pick shows me that I shouldn’t shy away the next time I see a barrel like this. Truly great, don’t pass this one up.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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