PEERLESS DOUBLE OAK BOURBON
Batch #150526101 (2021)
MASH BILL – unstated
PROOF – 106.8
AGE – NAS (blend of 20-30 barrels of 4-6 year whiskeys)
DISTILLERY – Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co.
PRICE – $87
WORTH BUYING? – Oh yes
I’ve got a friend who knows a guy (this already sounds suspicious) who periodically shows up with a trunk full of liquor which he sells for $20 a bottle, regardless of what it is. Where the guy sources this merch is not known, and one can guess it’s a matter of time before he stops coming around and ends up in one place for some prolonged stay.
Until then, my friend makes use of this home delivery service, often texting me a photo of his most recent acquisition asking what I know about it. Recently he sent a pic of a Peerless Single Barrel Rye. “You got a DEAL!” I texted back. “That’s typically a $100 bottle.”
I’ve enjoyed both the Peerless rye and bourbon. They’re excellent, with pristine flavors and rich beyond their years. But they’re expensive, and Wilderness Trail also puts out sweet-mash whiskeys at roughly 25% less the price, offering a similar enough taste experience that I can’t justify the higher cost of the Peerless.
When Peerless initially released their rosy-cheeked 2-year rye back in May 2017, the three-digit price tag for such a young whiskey struck many as cheeky indeed. But the whiskey was undeniably good. Maybe not three-digits good? That was a debate.
But Peerless stuck to both their making process, undeniable for its integrity, and their eyebrow-raising pricing strategy. The bottling age of their whiskeys has grown by a couple years since 2017. The bourbon is cheaper than the rye, though still not “cheap” by any standard. It’s a high-end brand from a new company that grew from legit roots—not some fabricated family story or concocted “tradition”—going back to 1880.
So while I came to respect Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., purely from a taste standpoint their excellent whiskeys haven’t stood out to me as so unique to justify making them a regular purchase. When I’ve seen a bottle on sale I’ve occasionally bitten. Otherwise, I enjoy the memory.
Until ☞ I saw the Peerless Double Oak release popping up on my local store shelves, priced just slightly above their standard release bourbon. The prospect of the Peerless Bourbon flavor profile given a second round in fresh oak barrels, and knowing the initial round was taken from their most flavor-forward stocks, was intriguing. I’d recently had a great experience with the Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel release (not exactly the same process but similar in its impact) and thought I’d give this oaky twist on the Peerless flavor profile a go. Plus the whiskey looked dark like coffee in the setting sun. How could I not try that?
So when my friend texted me about his questionably acquired Peerless Rye, which he was about to uncork, I was inspired to uncork my Peerless Double Oak.
I went through three pours that very night. It was good. And very easy drinking. Now it’s just over three weeks since then, and I’m a handful of pours into the bottle. These brief notes were taken using a traditional Glencairn.
COLOR – dark, rich russet oranges, with cherry and deep amber highlights
NOSE – baked cinnamon, thick cut caramel, dark vanilla, oak and other refined and exotic wood spices, dark roasted coffee, gooey toasted marshmallow with chocolate, cola adding zing, all of this delivered with surprising restraint given the richness
TASTE – those lovely exotic wood spices take the lead, then coffee, mossy oak bark, vanilla sauce and crisply toasted marshmallows, a tart orchard fruit like some kind of nectarine-apricot hybrid, all with a nice syrupy texture
FINISH – coffee, oak, red and black teas, a soft peppery bloom that prickles at the edges…
OVERALL – dark dark dark and delicious
This bourbon gives the descriptor “woody” a good name. The range of oak and other wood spice notes is complex and enticing. That restraint on the nose carries through into the taste, compelling further sips to tease out what all is lurking in the dark waters of this decadent pour. It’s rich without crossing into indulgence, with just enough sweet notes to keep the dry layers of wood from drying out.
At the price, like other Peerless offerings this won’t be a regular purchase for me—assuming they make it a regular offer. But as a study in antique wood it’s a welcome addition to the shelf. The aromas and flavors do conjure a careful perusal through some high-end antique shop, where tables and chairs and credenzas and cabinets have been carefully selected for their bygone quality, exquisite craftsmanship, fine wood grains and beautifully smooth surfaces.
One must be a fan of oak and wood to enjoy the Peerless Double Oak Bourbon, for sure. For such fans this is a worthy bottle. Makes me wish I had a big brick fire place to throw some thick oak logs into, where I could sit with friends and sip at several pours of this, lit only by the roaring fire’s light. We’d no doubt unravel the most complex philosophical conundrums in such a setting—at least for the duration of our sipping!