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- DISTILLER: Penelope Bourbon Bottling Co. (Sourced from MGP)
- MASH BILL: 75% Corn | 15% Wheat | 7% Rye | 3% Malted Barley - A blend of the following 3 bourbons from MGP:
- 99% Corn Bourbon from MGP - aged three years
- 21% Rye Bourbon from MGP - aged three years
- 45% Wheat Bourbon from MGP - aged two years
- AGE: No formal age statement but per the above bourbons used in the blend, it is technically a 2 year old bourbon and therefore, correctly listed as a "straight bourbon whiskey"
- YEAR: 2019
- PROOF: 80 Proof (40% ABV)
- MSRP: $ 34.99
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Sweet Candy | Butterscotch | Light Floral | Faint Spice
TASTE: Sweet Cream | Oak | Vanilla | Young Grain
FINISH: Short, leaving with an oaky favor
SHARE WITH: While young this is a very approachable bourbon to share with those new to bourbons. I found it easy to drink and pleasant. While at 40% abv, it does not knock your socks off, but it is a nice pour.
WORTH THE PRICE: At about $35 MSRP, I think it is properly priced for a sourced craft bourbon. By blending barrels, they have produced something different.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is a young bourbon that, it seems to me, is targeted at a broad audience of those not consumed with bourbon minutia. I would suggest trying it at a bar first, if possible. There are better bottles at this price point, but I would not be disappointed to purchase a bottle if I was looking for something different.
OVERALL: They named Penelope bourbon after the new born daughter of one of the co-founders, Mike Paladini. He along with his life-long friend, Danny Polise, both from Basking Ridge, NJ, formed Penelope bourbon bottling Company.
The originally provided description of the mash bill was a little puzzling. They indicated it was a blend of three bourbons: Corn, Wheat, and Rye, all containing Malted Barley for the fourth grain component but aged separately. After some back and forth with the brand we obtained the list of MGP bourbon mash bills used in the blend. And while they are not able to share with us the ratio of those bourbons in the final product, they are able to give us the final product's resulting mash bill percentages. All that being said, Penelope is a sweet young bourbon that is very approachable, while not deep in flavor or complexity.
I went into this tasting with modest expectations and was pleasantly surprised. This bottling is a very limited release of 1900 bottles, so if you are outside of New Jersey it may be tough to find. For cocktails, being a light sweet bourbon blend, I suggest staying away from Manhattans or Old Fashions. I did try it in a Boulevardier (equal parts bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, with an orange peal garnish). It had a hard time standing up to the Campari. With all that being said, it is better to stick with the lighter cocktails, like the ones that they recommend on their site.
By the way, they ask "Can anyone guess what type of flower is behind the P?" It looks to my wife like a Peony, I know nothing of flowers.
NOSE: Sweet Corn | Wheat | Buttery | Orange Zest
TASTE: Vanilla | Corn Syrup | Toasted Oak
FINISH: Short with candied orange peel.
SHARE WITH: At only 80 proof this is a good bourbon to share with friend who are just now dipping their toes into the world of bourbon. It's combination of low proof and sweetness will make for an easy first sip for most beginners.
WORTH THE PRICE: $35 seems reasonable for a sourced bourbon when you compare it to most other sourced whiskies on the market today. But remember that this one is only a few years old and the price reflects compared to older sourced releases.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: For those that are just getting into bourbon, I don't have an issue recommending this as a bottle. I've often suggested Basil Hayden's to new drinkers and these days it has the same $35 price point. The sweetness of this release, is in contrast to Basil Hayden's high-rye mash bill, and I think most new bourbon drinkers will appreciate the extra sweetness while their palate becomes familiar with whiskey.
OVERALL: Penelope is not going to wow seasoned drinkers but it's clear that's not its target audience. For those that are new to the category and are looking for bourbon to get their "feet wet", this is a solid option. While there are cheaper options on the market, I feel Penelope might do a better job than some in keeping some drinkers interested in bourbon beyond their first glass.
Disclaimer:Penelope Bourbon 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.
Jim Knudsen has lived in every region of the United States, traveled the world, and always enjoyed spirits along the way. While he has sampled local spirits in 50 countries on 6 continents, he always comes home to bourbon. Jim is an accomplished global sales and marketing executive, with a degree in Physics from Michigan State University and an MBA from Baldwin-Wallace College. Growing up in Michigan, in a household rich with the experience of enjoying drink. He now lives in Georgia with his wife Karen, the love of his life, his personal editor, and style consultant. When not drinking bourbon he likes to golf, reading, and enjoys professional football and boxing. Actually, these are more often enjoyed while drinking bourbon. His four great kids, with families of their own, have blessed him with 6 grandchildren. While coming to bourbon late in life, he is working diligently to catch up.
Read Jim's full profile.