Penelope Barrel Strength Batch 17 Review

“Four Grain”

Penelope’s Barrel Strength bourbon is a blend of three hand-selected bourbon mash bills that are finished in new American oak barrels. What is unique to the Penelope is the use of a four-grain mash bill (rather than the traditional three-grain) of corn, wheat, rye, and malted barley. Penelope whiskeys used to be unavailable in Washington state, but in spring of 2024 I began seeing some of their offerings show up in stores. So, having found one at an out-of-the-way store, let’s try a pour and work on a Penelope Barrel Strength Batch 17 review.

The Penelope brand was founded in 2018 and was purchased by Luxco (MGP) in June 2023.

Series: Barrel Strength
Batch #: 17
Classification: Blended Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: 4 years
Proof: 116
Proof Designation: Barrel Strength
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: 74% Corn, 16% Wheat, 7% Rye, 3% Malted Barley
Barrel Char Level: 4
Barrel Entry Proof: ??
Distillate Source: Indiana & Kentucky
Distillery: Undisclosed
Company: Luxco
Bottled By: Penelope Bourbon Bottling Co.
Distilled/Aging Location: Lawrenceburg, Indiana & Bardstown, Kentucky
Master Distiller: ??
Release Date: 2023
MSRP: $65
Secondary Market: na
Availability: Not available in every state

Penelope Barrel Strength Bourbon  Batch 17 Review
Penelope Barrel Strength Batch 17 Review

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.

Legs

Beads formed on the crown after about 6 seconds, legs started to form and fall at about 10 seconds, and they reached the bowl after about 27 seconds.

Nose

There was not a lot on the nose. Honey, some ethanol, dried apricot, pecans.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Penelope: Sweet caramel with a hints of maple syrup and candied sweetness.

The Bourbon Guy: Batch 14 review: Milk chocolate, red fruits, and caramel.

The Barrel Burner: Batch 16 review: A rather thin nose that showcases an aroma of oak, cinnamon and a subtle strawberry. After we let the glass sit for about 10 minutes on a freshly cracked bottle the strawberry fruitiness intensifies with oak in the background and the cinnamon all but forgotten.

Palate

The palate has a nice complexity with caramel corn, graham cracker, toffee, cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe some apple pie, sweet oak, a hint of cedar, pecans, orange zest, sweet leather. It also has a mildly dry astringency.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Penelope: Smooth caramel syrup, brown sugar, subtle barrel char, and hints of butterscotch and crème brûlée. The sweetness transitions to notes of cinnamon, barrel char, and slight maple syrup.

The Bourbon Guy: Batch 14 review: Sweet with vanilla and chocolate, spicy cinnamon, and strawberry jam.

The Barrel Burner: Batch 16 review: The initial sip has some subtle heat to it that becomes elongated on the finish. There is a subtle vanilla with some caramel present that lingers with the slightly heated finish. Subsequent sips are loaded with vanilla bean, caramel and a wisp of cinnamon. There is some subtle oak that dissipates as some average heat develops.

Finish

Brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, white pepper, pecans.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

Penelope: Spicy cinnamon finish with amazing lingering spice and heat.

The Bourbon Guy: Batch 14 review: Medium length and warm. Notes of caramel, raspberry jam, and cinnamon.

The Barrel Burner: Batch 16 review: na

Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel is a bit thin and weak.

The Burn

3 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is about what I would expect it to be, meaning that the burn is there, it’s noticeable, but not unexpected. But, better whiskeys drink below their actual proof.

Tasting Summary

The Penelope Barrel Strength Batch 17 is a decent pour with a balanced sweetness and mild spiciness. Mild baking spices are mingled with sweet notes of caramel and vanilla that slowly grow as the spicy notes dissipate.

My Rating

The higher the score the better the whiskey is in my opinion. For reference, my best rated bottle so far is the George T. Stagg 2022 (138.7p) with a score of 9.7.

Score TypeScoreExamples
Likability Score7.31.0 – 10.0
Availability Score31-Rare, 2-Hard to Find, 3-A Little Hunting, 4-Easy to Find
Penelope Barrel Strength Review Tasting Notes

A blank version of this tasting notes wheel is available in both a color and a black & white version in the member’s area.

Penelope Barrel Strength Batch 17 Tasting Notes
Notes and History

As of 2023 the Penelope name offers these products: Four Grain Bourbon, Architect Bourbon, Barrel Strength Bourbon, Toasted Bourbon, Rio Bourbon, Rose Cask Finish Bourbon, Valencia Bourbon, Tokaji Cask Finish, Private Select Barrel Strength Bourbon, Toasted Rye, and Founder’s Reserve American Light Whiskey.

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