I recently spent the weekend with an old Army buddy of mine who is stationed at Fort Knox, KY. I never knew him to be a whiskey drinker until we started to talk about what hobbies we were into these days. He walked over to his cabinet and brought out about six bottles that represented a nice overall spread of Kentucky’s finest.
The one bottle that he prized the most is the subject of today’s review. It was a gift given to him by a friend who was a fan of a local distillery called Boundary Oak. I don’t think he meant to ever open the bottle, but he insisted that we both share a drink from it for old times sake (we deployed together twice to Iraq). How could I say no?
I was familiar with Boundary Oak because their 82nd Airborne bottle has been seeing distribution in the Indianapolis area over the last couple months and nobody seems to know anything about it.
I also had a friend from work who purchased a bottle of their “Armored Diesel” which is a tribute to George Patton’s favorite drink (it has a rum base, not whiskey though). My perception of the brand was that people bought the bottles because of how they looked, not the contents inside.
Admittedly, they do a fantastic job on the packaging and I’m sure that many recipients appreciate the military tribute themes rather than want to study the nuances of the distillate. But just in case you want to buy a bottle of this to open up and drink, I am going to do some recon to see if it’s worth your time.
Reviews on this bourbon are scarce and prices are all over the place. Therefore, I’m going to try and clear up the confusion. The only other main review of this bottle that I can find on the internet is on the podcast “The Bourbon Road.” In it, the guys claim this bourbon is 100 proof and costs $95.
However, every picture and online store that sells this bottle shows it being 90 proof and around $50. Even the bottle for this review is 90 proof. So if there are two proof variants of My Old Kentucky Home, then I can’t find them online.
In late 2020, there appears to have even been a single barrel bottled for the Bourbon & Blades knife show in Radcliffe, KY whereby a similar, but different, label is affixed to the front of the bottle. There’s no horse anymore and it is instead replaced with a drawing of an old log cabin.
The bottle has a handwritten “90 proof” on the label and wears two different single barrel designation labels above and below the standard one. Interestingly enough, it shows that the single barrel only produced 50 bottles which leads me to wonder if the distillate wasn’t aged in a smaller barrel like a quarter cask.
My Old Kentucky Home is also apparently sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery and has been aged for only 2 years. It’s strange to me that although Boundary Oak does distill their own whiskey with a pot still, it does not go into this product. So let’s see if I can identify the bourbon they are using and if it’s worthy of a purchase. I sampled this neat and in a glencairn.
Nose: Before taking any sips at all, my nose immediately picks up on a peanut funk. My mind locks onto Jim Beam as the source of this distillate until I start drinking more of it. After a couple sips, the nuttiness goes away entirely. Maybe this isn’t Beam after all.
Instead it is replaced by a dominant orange note. It’s so strong that even my wife who is not a whiskey drinker comments that she can smell oranges on it from across the table.
It’s hard to overcome the oranges to find much else but I do get some rye scents that indicate a good amount of rye grain is present in the mashbill. I also get gingersnap cookies which also is a dead giveaway for a high-rye content.
Palate: Surprisingly, the taste of oak stands out first and is fairly aggressive on my tongue. But at only 2 years old, the oak wood hasn’t mellowed out and is actually quite bitter.
That bitterness leans into more notes of citrus (once again with orange being front and center) along with a lot of youthful grainy notes. There is some honey for sweetness, but the spicy heat level similar to Vietnamese cinnamon and chili flakes makes each sip more hot than sweet.
Finish: Citrus continues on the finish, but becomes more lemon-y. The oak calms down and isn’t as noticeable. The sweetness really tapers off but menthol cooling notes (likely from the rye again) remain.
The finish lasts moderately long but due to its lack of uniqueness, it’s not really something that you want to savor for a long time.
Initially I was convinced that this was sourced from Beam but after the first sip, I’m fairly sure that this is Barton distillate. Based on the flavors and scents I detected, this has to be a high-rye mashbill (which Barton does have).
I could go as far as even thinking this is a super-young Four Roses distillate, but there’s no way they’re selling to anyone anymore.
Overall, the orange notes (more like floor cleaner on the nose and orange extract on the tongue) were very polarizing to me. I didn’t “not like” them… but they seemed to cover up everything else.
And that’s actually kind of fine because you don’t want the main takeaway being that this bottle only tasted bitter and grainy (which it still kind of did). As for the heat of each sip, it seemed much hotter than its 90 proof would indicate.
If this was a blind, I would’ve guessed it was around 105 proof or so. But that’s just the youth of the bourbon showing through more than anything else.
As a final thought, I feel like this bottle has a great feel and look to it. It draws you in and would fit perfectly with other contemporary bottles on the shelf. Even the black wax is understated, yet classy. Everything looks great.
But I don’t understand the price and why after all of these years it continues to be bottled at only 2 or 3 years old. Even brands like Yellowstone sell single barrels of high proof, 5 year-old Barton for roughly the same price that My Old Kentucky Home sells for. Why not wait a couple more years to age this so that the contents are actually enjoyable to drink?
My Old Kentucky Home deserves to have a bourbon on the inside that matches the label on the outside. So if you’re reading this review, Boundary Oak, then I’ll tell you the same thing that we were told in the military… “Make it happen!”
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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