Review: W.B. Saffell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
In 2017, Campari introduced its Whiskey Barons Collection with mountains of history and backstory in tow, no doubt in hopes of propelling these obscure Wild Turkey-made whiskeys to new heights of collectability. We found the inaugural releases, Bond & Lillard and Old Ripy, to have enough character and quality to stand on their own, but the popularity of the line didn’t exactly skyrocket. In fact, after a second batch of Old Ripy hit the shelves, it was rumored in many a bourbon forum that the collection might end there. In early 2019 that myth was busted with the release of yet another addition to the line: W.B. Saffell Kentucky Straight Bourbon. As with its predecessors, history abounds on this one. Read for yourself below, if you’re into that kind of thing.
William Butler Saffell began distilling as a teenager. With his grit, determination, and reputed hand-made sour mash, it wasn’t long after, in 1889, that he built his first distillery. What resulted was a delicate, golden Kentucky Bourbon, first created northwest of Lawrenceburg, that became a treasure of America.
Saffell himself may have said it best when he remarked, “My own small product is not excelled by any.” Crafted to stand apart, this non-chill filtered offering is a blend of 6, 8, 10, and 12 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Recreated to deliver every bit of that pre-Prohibition, straight-from-the-barrel flavor, this genuine piece of bourbon heritage won’t be around for long. Only a limited number are available, so own a piece of history before they’re gone forever.
Will W.B. Saffell put the Whiskey Barons Collection on the map?
The nose is big and rich with plenty of classic Wild Turkey character. There’s savory oak, barrel char, and baking spice but also a generous sweet side to this one with notes of caramel apple and flamed orange peel. It’s complex and the proof allows plenty of that complexity to shine through the alcohol. On the palate, it’s oily and full of well-balanced flavor. The front of the palate shows a nice mix of savory sandalwood and hazelnut alongside caramel candies, arboreal honey, and orange Jolly Rancher. The mid-palate gets creamier with a slight candied ginger note. The finish hangs on for an exceptionally long time with honeydew, butterscotch pudding, and clove-studded orange. A few drops of water really turn down the citrus and soften the wood while amplifying the baking spice and brown sugar into pralines and dulce de leche ice cream. Overall: Exceptional stuff.
In the opinion of this humble whiskey reviewer, if W.B. Saffell doesn’t excite bourbon lovers about the Whiskey Barons Collection then nothing will.
A / $50 / thewhiskeybarons.com