Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve Review Header

Old Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve Review

In Blended Whiskey Reviews by Thomas FondanoLeave a Comment

Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve Bottle Photo
To create Manchester Reserve, our master distillers roamed the rickhouses for months, and, after exhaustive tastings, hand-selected one truly virtuous 7-year bourbon to blend with our very best behaved 8-year rye, dialing in complex notes from both juices into one spirited bottle of amber liquor.
Wm. Tarr Distillery


Old Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve


  • DISTILLER: Produced by Wm. Tarr Distillery but sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery

  • MASH BILL: A blend of rye whiskey (51% Rye | 37% Corn | 12% Barley) and bourbon (75% Corn | 13% Rye | 12% Barley)

  • AGE: A blend of 8 year old rye whiskey and 7 year old bourbon

  • YEAR: 2020

  • PROOF: 114Proof (57% ABV)

  • MSRP: $79.95

  • BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com

NOSE: Caramel  |  Corn  |  Spiced Cherries  |  Toasted Oak

TASTE: Rye Spice  |  Oak  |  Faint Sweet Honey  |  Green Apple

FINISH: Medium with lingering sweetness and some grain

SHARE WITH: While young, this is a blend to share with your “drink curious” not too judgy friends.

WORTH THE PRICE: I found Ingram an interesting expression. I am generally a Midwest Grain Products fan, and I like to support craft distillers/blenders with innovative ideas. With all that being said, at over $70 for a less than 4-year-old, sourced, blended whiskey, this would be a tough sell for me.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This whiskey is not a bust. It has interest and depth that you wouldn’t expect by its age. The blending is done well and with the innovative take on aging, I will give it a BAR rating. Try it first, if you can, before you buy. In the fifty dollar range, I would be tempted to go bottle.

OVERALL: O. H. Ingram River Aged Straight Whiskey, I found interesting whiskey. Aged in a floating “rickhouse” at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, in Ballard County, Kentucky. The theory being the gentle rocking of the barrels enhances the aging process. This process has its roots in the river transport of barreled distillate from Bourbon County delivered to New Orleans, with the transformed taste that apocryphally led to our native spirit. Does it make a difference? I have no idea, but there are a lot of people putting barrels on ocean voyages, riverboats, playing music to them, and even aging in cranberry bogs.

I have an issue with brands using invented or unrelated stories to support the “marketing” of their spirits. I don’t see that as an issue with O.H. Ingram. They have family history tied to the river and actually age on floating barges. They don’t hide the source, age, or mash bills of their product. Starting from typically quality rye and bourbon distillate from MGP in Indiana, aging for over three years and blended well, has produced a straight whiskey. It has a surprising depth for a young age. I found it drinkable neat, better with ice, but not particularly suitable for cocktails. My only issue with this product is the price, which is high for what it is. Understanding that the cost of sourcing and barreling probably drives this cost. If you find it in a bar, or you have the resource and drinking curiosity, I would not dissuade you from giving this one a try.

NOSE: Toasted sugar | Dried fruit | Butterscotch

TASTE: Sweet corn | Marshmallow

FINISH: Dill | Mint | Cinnamon Red Hots

SHARE WITH: Folks curious about blends or looking to ease into rye whiskey from bourbon.

WORTH THE PRICE: For a decently aged, sourced 114-proof blend, bottled by a smaller NDP, the price isn’t extreme. But, it’s more than I’m willing to pay.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST:At this price, I fully recommend trying a pour at a bar or splitting a bottle with friends.

OVERALL: The nose says, “Whiskey;” the palate says, “Bourbon;” the finish says, “Rye.” I like whiskeys that take you on a journey from the nose through to the finish. As a blend, Manchester Reserve takes you on less of a journey and more around some sharp turns. The nose almost seems delicate for the proof, but the bourbon notes on the palate, followed by a strong rye finish, lacks the harmony I expect in a blend.  If “surprising turns” is your whiskey style, you may like this. I think it’s certainly worth a try.

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Wm. Tarr Distillery releases Manchester Reserve

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Wm. Tarr Distillery today announced the availability of Old Wm. Tarr Manchester Reserve, the first product of the revived, historic distillery. The Kentucky straight blended whiskey may be purchased online at wmtarrdistillery.com for curbside pickup or at hundreds of retail establishments across Kentucky.

Jill Bakehorn, owner of an event venue and a catering company on Lexington’s Manchester Street, discovered the remarkable history of William Tarr and decided to bring back the brand and legacy with co-founder Barry Brinegar, a Lexington marketing executive and bourbon aficionado.

“Our first release is an exceptional product, a 7-year Kentucky bourbon blended with an 8-year rye,” said Bakehorn, Wm. Tarr Distillery CEO. “I like drinking a dimensional bourbon. The rye comes in to elevate your tasting experience and the element of cherries adds a sweet finish. It’s perfect neat or straight, and I especially enjoy it over ice with a twist of orange as a simple cocktail.”


Brinegar, also a history buff, is equally enthusiastic.

“The opportunity to develop bourbon products that will stand the test of time is a dream for someone like me,” said Brinegar, who serves as Wm. Tarr president. “As our first release, Manchester Reserve is worthy of the name and the brand. It really is the essence of why Kentucky is a leader in the global production of bourbon.”

Manchester Reserve was developed for the experienced palate and will be appreciated by any level consumer.

  • Nose:     Light caramel, toasted macadamia nuts, dried dill, toasted rye bread, lightly smoked nuts, apple butter, soft notes of new leather
  • Palate:     Silky, coating, dried apples
  • Finish:     Sweet herbal, dried citrus, lingering soft vanilla, white chocolate, toasted coconut, dried mint, mint tea

The carefully selected bottle is a nod to 19th Century Old Tarr packaging but with a sleeker appeal and cork stopper. The slate gray label boasts an illustration of Tarr as he is imagined to have looked in his prime. An oak tree on the neck band is a reminder of the white oak container in which it was aged. RD1 stamped into the cap top claims the position of Wm. Tarr as the first federally registered distillery in Kentucky

Curbside pickup for online orders will occur at Wm. Tarr Distillery in the historic Pepper Rickhouse located in Lexington’s Distillery District at 1170 Manchester Street, Suite 190. The facility soon will be home to the Wm. Tarr tour experience. In the meantime, it will host private tastings and related events.

Whiskey fans are encouraged to check Wm. Tarr Distillery’s social media pages frequently for virtual tasting events and other opportunities to learn more and engage with others. In addition, direct-to-consumer ordering is coming soon.

Old Wm. Tarr Inheritance, a 12-year limited release bourbon, is available for pre-sale. This well-matured, ultra-premium bourbon will be available in November. It will be presented in a custom-designed box with an additional label autographed by Mark Stoops.

Disclaimer: Wm. Tarr Distillery provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.


Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm. Read Thomas' full profile.

About the Author

Thomas Fondano


Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm. Read Thomas' full profile.