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  • Writer's picturePeter Miles

KO Distiller's Reserve

KO Distillery: Distiller’s Reserve Bourbon. Bottled in Bond. Single Barrel Version.

Based in Manassas VA, KO distillery’s first aged whiskies arrived in late 2016 when the initial ‘Bare Knuckle’ range appeared. More recently the premium ‘Distiller’s Reserve’ bourbon was released. It has their standard bourbon mash bill of 70% corn, 20% wheat and 10% barley. This ‘Bottled in Bond’ wheated bourbon has been aged for 4+ years and was bottled at the required 50% proof. It won a Double Gold Medal Award at the 2021 SF World Spirits Competition.

Mash bill: 70% corn, 20% wheat, 10% barley.

Single Barrel: Barrel #6, Bottle Number 216.

(According to an additional label on the bottom of the bottle I ended up, more by accident than purpose, with an ABC Selected Single Barrel version. Most of the bottles I have seen of the Distiller’s Reserve do not have this extra label and, I guess, are ‘small batch’ style and not single barrel?? However, I also suspect that any differences would be modest.)

ABV: 50%.

Matured: Greater than 48+ months in American oak barrels, char level ?.

Cost: $70 / 750ml bottle

Color: Russet Muscat: 1.3 (Whisky Magazine scale).

Swirl: Medium rim with multiples ‘legs’ flowing down the glass.

Nose: A really good quality bourbon nose, richer than most wheated bourbons. Confectionary sweetness, vanilla ice cream on apple pie. A light touch of spice and some roasted nut aromas.

Taste: Medium viscosity, well balanced with some initial caramel/toffee flavors and then a pretty strong wood influence kicking in. Heat develops smoothly building up to the full 50% ABV. There are some mint chocolate and licorice notes and spices in there as well.

The overall taste profile seems slightly closer to a standard rye grain flavored bourbon than the smooth, tongue coating, slightly ‘clayish’ wheated bourbons that seem in vogue at the moment. There must be some significant wood notes being extracted from the barrels over those four years to create that spice effect. Quite complex.

Finish: A sophisticated dry finish that lingers for a while. Long enough to pour another.

Verdict: This is, indeed, a quality sipping bourbon and recommended. (It hardly ever happens, but I noticed that my tasting notes seem more or less in line with the description published by the distillery! Well, how about that.) Must try their Distiller's Reserve Rye.

Photography by Amelia Kirchgessner

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