I have always said that relationships matter in this business and when it comes to getting our hands on good casks, good relationships are crucial. We have had a long relationship with Charles and Sam Medley, owners of Wathen’s Bourbon, over the years, which proved exceedingly fruitful this year as Vine & Table was chosen as the sole Indiana account to select a single full-proof barrel from Wathen’s. This is the first year that this highly allocated bourbon program came to Indiana and the barrel that Dave, Dan and yours truly picked out is pretty spectacular, if I do say so myself. Just shy of 9 years old, barrel no. 63 was drawn from the cask at 126.5 proof with the barrel yielding just 180 bottles. My oh my, what a beautiful nose. Pear drops, candied fruits, toasted caramel and charred cherry aromas waft from the glass. Once that whisky hits the tongue it’s a flavor sensation with all of the previously aforementioned fruits vying for attention, along with toasted hazelnuts, cinnamon, and crème brulee. It’s so soft, syrupy, and gentle that one could quickly get in trouble given that it is bottled directly from the cask at 63.25% ABV, but by golly the alcohol is nowhere to be seen! The finish is exceptionally full and rich and had me coming back again and again. Given that there fewer and fewer full proof bourbons available to us these days, I have no doubt that this one will disappear all too soon. – Denis Lynch, Vine & Table Spirits Buyer
Those who have been following Vine & Table’s barrel program over that last several years know that we always seem to return to Charles Medley and Wathen’s Bourbon. We have had no less than six picks from Wathen’s in the last three years. With so many burgeoning distilleries some might wonder why we keep returning to Wathen’s for another store pick? The answer is simple: no matter the vintage or rickhouse location, we know every time we sample Wathen’s barrels we will find at least one exceptional cask. Our latest acquisition upholds the standard and in fact, goes beyond- this is the first full proof, cask strength Wathen’s we’ve ever had! – Dave Helt, Vine & Table Spirits Buyer
From the first pour you can tell this will be an extraordinary bottle. With its beautiful hue of amber gold and cascading legs this is a bourbon that looks as pretty as it tastes. Raising the glass to your lips, you are greeted with aromas of strawberry shortcake, honey-drizzled cornbread, and fresh mown hay. Our barrel registers at a hefty 126.5 proof but shows more complexity in the nose and palate than many 80 proof whiskies. It bursts with flavors of sugar cream pie, cloved orange, and a hint of fresh picked mint on the finish. This drinks far too smoothly to betray its proof and warms without burning either the tongue or belly. With the weather turning colder and the temptation to sip a good glass in front of the fire, I don’t expect this barrel to last long. At only $84.99 this bourbon is the perfect gift for a loved one…or yourself.
Keeping track of the making, barreling, bottling, and selling of whiskey is a complicated, convoluted and, to be perfectly honest, confusing proposition. Every maker has a legendary story, and while many of them ring true, I can pretty much guarantee that in 19th century rural Kentucky, nobody was keeping track of who did what and when they first did it. – Dan Angelo, Vine & Table Spirits Buyer
What we can say for sure is that the Wathen/Medley family has been making bourbon in Lebanon, Kentucky since 1790, making them one of the original pioneering families. This history continues to the present with Vine & Table’s selection of their Barrel Proof bourbon release, and in keeping with the previously mentioned legends, this barrel has a provenance that is hard to nail down. It was purportedly contract distilled for them about 9 years ago by an unknown distiller, whose name may, or may not, rhyme with muffalo space – or so it’s said…
Checking in at 126.5 Proof, V&T’s select barrel is the embodiment of the guiding principle of Wathen’s bourbon philosophy – people drink bourbon because it’s sweet; corn makes it sweet, so put as much corn in the mash as you can. But this is anything but a one-note beginner’s bourbon. The high proof whiskey yields a remarkable nose of tropical flowers, say orchids and vanilla, and has a spicy finish that is surprising given the relative lack of rye in the mash. Combine that with the rich velvety mouthfeel, and the only thing that is missing is a second barrel. Wathen’s had only 75 barrels available for the entire country, and we’ve got Indiana’s only one. Like any good aged bourbon, the angels took more than their fair share, leaving us only 180 bottles to give good homes to. Don’t miss out, adopt a bottle as your own for $84.99.
BUY ONLINE: Wathen’s Special Release “Barrel Proof” V& T Exclusive Cask Strength Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon – $84.99