Deep russet and fairly dark in color, this is a rich looking bourbon.
Strong notes of vanilla and oak dominate the nose with an earthy quality underlying it. there are hints of bubblegum and circus peanuts that I often find in recent Heaven Hill products that may give a clue as to the provenance of the distillate.
This is where is gets a little disappointing. It starts off well enough with cinnamon and vanilla hitting the front of the palate, but that quickly gives way to a very astringent alcohol flavor that speaks of a barrel picked far too soon to be bottled. It’s that “not quite aged, but not quite white dog” sensation that seems to numb the tongue with licorice and ethanol.
The ethanol notes continues, unfortunately, but some oak and tannins re-enter near the tail end of this medium-to-long finish.
I know quite a few people who enjoy Wathen’s, usually when paired with a cigar. And maybe that’s the appropriate format here, as the tobacco would compliment the earthy notes on the nose and perhaps deaden the alcohol a bit. Not one to admit defeat, I splashed this with water and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. The alcohol was deadened nearly completely with only a small splash, and the oak notes were amplified. In addition, the nose was changed entirely. Gone were the sweet circus peanuts and caramel, and in its place was a spicy citrus orange and lemon zest- almost nose hair prickling.
Read the full review: Modern Thirst