LUCKY SEVEN “THE HOLD UP”
Batch 1 (2020)
MASH BILL – 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% corn
PROOF – 100
AGE – 12 years
DISTILLERY – Bottled by Lucky Seven Distillery, source not stated (likely Barton)
PRICE – $98
BUY AGAIN? – No, due to $$$ not taste, and that there are a number of 12-year bourbons coming out sourced from Barton.
Lucky Seven is among the new additions to the bourbon bottling business, and it brings a very specific angle—Hollywood. Specifically old Hollywood. Their website is replete with black and white photos of early 20th century sound stages in action. And their marketing includes elaborate videos made to look like old Hollywood films. Here’s how the founders describe themselves on their website:
Co-founders Michael Lahalih and John Pals have been best friends since their college years and share a common bond of bourbon and cinema. In fact, the Lucky 7 namesake is derived from the infamous Stage 7 on the Warner Brothers lot, where some of the greatest movies in cinema were filmed, such as Casablanca and My Fair Lady. The warehouse-sized stage produced so many award-winning films that the industry started calling it “Lucky Stage 7.”
Be it luck, or be it magic (or maybe a bit of both) – finding a bourbon as delicious as Lucky 7, well… that’s worth celebrating. We are but Curators of Fine Spirits, carefully sourcing and then meticulously blending only the rarest bourbons. Nothing is going in to a bottle of Lucky 7 unless it is of the finest spirits you could find. And it is with great pride that Michael and John offer these unique, limited-edition releases. Cheers!
They currently offer three bottlings: The Jokester (aged 6 years), The Hold Up (aged 12 years), and The Proprietor, a single barrel (aged 12 years). Each bottle is lavishly designed to evoke classic, ritzy old Hollywood. The front label features lettering in 22-karat gold and mimics an old movie ticket, peeling back to reveal additional information.
Though the source or mash bill are not revealed, I wrote Lucky Seven asking for additional information and this is what they shared with me:
Mash Bill: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
Each of the barrels for Batch 1 were hand selected and sampled. Detailed notes were taken on each of the 12YO barrels in which some were selected to be blended with others, some were selected to not be part of the batch at all, and some were selected to stand alone which became our single barrel expression called “The Proprietor”; left untouched and bottled at barrel strength.
The most telling bit is the mash bill, a classic Barton Distillery recipe that’s been showing up in an increasing number of bottler’s offerings, from Lucky Seven to Sam Houston to Bardstown Bourbon Company’s various blends. One sniff and I recognized that Barton 1792 floral rye spice.
Despite the founder’s honesty on the website, the Lucky Seven marketing folks pull a bit of brazenly misleading copy on the back label. It’s a legal (I assume) slight of hand that incidentally leaves the distinct impression they distilled the whiskey in addition to bottling it:
Tricky. And not necessary. No shame in sourcing if you’re honest about it. I’m not quite certain how they get away with this wording, given the strict American laws around labelling whiskey. And I’m curious why the website is straight up but the bottle isn’t.
In any case…
Of course I had to try it in my antique tumbler, for aesthetic reasons. But for these notes I sampled it in a traditional Glencairn, about a month after uncorking and just a handful of pours into the bottle.
COLOR – a foggy caramel-orange playing tricks in the refracted light, glinting brass and gold
NOSE – baking-spiced florals, herbed caramel, pastry dough, saltwater taffy, old fashioned caramel chews, cream, all very nicely integrated and very enticing
TASTE – true to the nose, I could rename all those flavors here, adding an oaky edge and also the faintest fleeting creosote note to the mix on swallowing
FINISH – the florals and herbs, caramels and taffy, more tannins from the oak, a nice peppery bite without biting.
OVERALL – If you like Barton 1792 you’ll really like this well-aged outing of that mash bill
This is really good. It’s 1792 12 Year in a fancy bottle. Now, that is not literally true, of course. And I don’t have a bottle of 1792 12 Year handy to conduct a side-by-side comparison. My point is there is no new twist or discovery here. Just an exceptional rendition of the familiar bouquet that is Barton 1792.
In the antique tumbler, the nose emphasizes the caramel and taffy aspects more prominently. Then on the taste there’s perhaps a touch less oak than with the Glencairn. But then on the finish those oaky tannins kick back up, even a bit more than in the Glencairn.
In both the tumbler and Glencairn, the nose is the most satisfying aspect. That’s where this whiskey is at its most balanced and alluring. I could nose it forever. After that things start to fragment a bit. Nevertheless it remains perfectly tasty through to the end.
I’ve had bottles of 1792 that were downright soapy, and others so delicately and sweetly floral I wanted to croon. Again, technically this is not 1792. But of the Barton-sourced bourbons I’ve tried lately it is easily the most recognizably similar. Tasted blind I’d be very surprised if 1792 wouldn’t be my first guess.
So this begs the eternal sourced-bourbon question: Why buy sourced variations of something you can get straight from the source? Barton’s own 12 Year release of their 1792 line, bottled at a similar 96.6 proof, went for $54 to this Lucky Seven release’s $98. The 1792 didn’t have such a snazzy bottle. But ultimately, the bottle is decoration. It’s the bourbon that matters.
I’ll enjoy this bourbon, for sure. It’s good. And when I’m in the mood for a nicely aged spice bomb, I’ll be reaching for this first. It’s got some grit with its beauty, offering texture and smoothness in one pungent glass. There is enough complexity to grab your attention, and enough integration to let you get on with the conversation you’re having—or movie you’re watching!
That said, I don’t see myself buying another bottle. With the number of bottlers sourcing from Barton, there are a lot of other products out there to try. This one is absolutely excellent, without being special.