REDEMPTION WHEATED BOURBON
Batch 002 (2018)
MASH BILL – 51% corn, 45% Winter wheat, 4% malted barley
PROOF – 96
AGE – 4 years
DISTILLERY – Redemption Barrel Selections (sourcing from MGP)
PRICE – $46
WORTH BUYING? – Yes
Back in Fall 2018, I popped into a liquor store I used to frequent to ask about the Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 9 Year the owner had behind glass. He said flat out, “The bourbon’s okay. You’re paying for the fancy bottle.” As a business owner he had an incentive to sell me things. But he sided with honesty. I didn’t buy the Old Fitz 9 Year. I bought the Redemption Wheated Bourbon he recommended instead, for a third of the Old Fitz price tag. I was very pleased with it and soon picked up a second bottle.
Three years later I’ve finally cracked open that second bottle. (My early 2021 commitment to bunkering less and uncorking more still faces a backlog!) Having dropped the hunt for Weller in any of its incarnations, my eyes and ears are always open for other wheated bourbon alternatives.
My memory of Redemption’s Wheated Bourbon is that it’s very good. Here are the notes I took over the course of that first bottle’s life back in 2018:
1st Impression: Nose vanilla, wheat, light citrus, corn. Taste cream, vanilla, light caramel, spice. Finish warm with vanilla, fading spice, short-medium in length. An easy “+,” emphasis on easy. This bourbon feels effortless and light hearted. Is WSR really better? This is good. I’d love to try an older bottling and/or a barrel proof.
Mid-bottle: Really liking this still. It’s buttery, citrusy, creamy, peppery, smooth. Not a mind blower. Just a good, low key, easy to like wheater, perfect for Spring or Summer. Paying $50+ for WSR is foolish for so many reasons, this Redemption Wheated being just one of them!
Final: This bottle continues to please. A solid sipper, and affordable.
Three years on and many other wheated bourbons later, how will I take to it now?
These brief notes were taken about seven weeks after uncorking and a good handful of pours into the bottle, tasted in a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – an array of yellow and orange ambers
NOSE – salted caramel, peach pie, fresh wheat bread, apricot jam, a dusting of chocolate shavings, faint cherry, dry cut oak
TASTE – the fruit notes seem to blend into one, the oak tannins lean forward a bit through a creamy taste and mouthfeel, the caramel runs in a quiet stream underneath it all
FINISH – oak, wheat bread crust, cream, a nice dash of baking spices, toasted vanilla in dry caramel
OVERALL – Shifting from sweeter to drier over the course of the nose through to the finish, it’s a pleasing wheated sipper overall.
The nose wins for overall complexity. Things simplify toward the dry side on the taste and especially the finish. But in terms of overall impact, I’ve had softer and sweeter (e.g. Weller or Larceny) as well as drier (e.g. Old Monroe) wheaters, and others in between (e.g. the Old Fitz 14 Year). I’ve also had far wilder wheaters, like that flavor bomb McKenzie single barrel I picked up from Seelbach’s two summers ago, and its standard release cousin, the McKenzie Bottled in Bond.
Redemption has a creaminess to it that helps soften the edges of both its notable oak tannins and a gritty quality that high-wheat bourbons can sometimes have. I’d prefer it closer to $30 than to $40. It comes off overall as a great bottom-shelfer—not something I mean as a pejorative in the slightest. There are some incredible bottom-shelfers out there—Wild Turkey 101, Evan Williams BiB, Jim Beam Distiller’s Cut… That said, given today’s frenzy for wheated bourbons, at its current average price it’s not at all a bad deal.
In short, any wheated bourbon fan should definitely try Redemption at least once, to see where it fits into their personal flavor profile. Whether it ends up a one-time buy or a constant on the home shelf, it’s as worthy of attention as any FOMO-fueled bottom shelfer gone top shelf.