Age: 10 Years
Barrel #: 83
Bottle #: 10/161
Tasted: Neat in a glencairn glass
O.K.I. Single Barrel is an 10-year-old, high 35% rye bourbon from New Riff Distilling. This particular bottled was a single barrel, cask strength selection by Big Red Liquors in Indiana.
New Riff distillery opened in the spring of 2014 in Newport, Kentucky, just on the other side of the river from Cincinnati. The new distillery is owned by Ken Lewis, former president of the Wine and Spirits Guild of America and former owner of The Party Source, a northern Kentucky liquor store.
Like many new distilleries, to begin releasing product while their own young whiskey ages they have sourced from Midwest Grain Products (MGP) for their O.K.I. brand. The name O.K.I. signifies the whiskey history of greater Cincinnati that was once a hub of whiskey production. As the label states, O.K.I. is “distilled in Indiana, bottled in Kentucky, and enjoyed in Ohio.” I believe that I heard on a podcast that New Riff Distilling will discontinue the O.K.I. brand once their own whiskey comes of age.
I live in Ohio so lets see if this bourbon is truly “enjoyed in Ohio” like the label states…….. Hahaha
Nose: Tons of caramel and vanilla on the front. Mint. Rye spice. Cinnamon. I enjoy the nose!
Palate: Honestly, it feels like my tongue fizzles when the bourbon hits it. Especially on the first sip, but that feeling is still present during the whole dram. Can’t say I have ever experienced that fizzling sensation from any other bourbon I have tried. After the fizzle I’m presented with a big spice bomb. Cinnamon, rye spice, and vanilla. This is an out of balance pour. Way too much heat, dryness, and spice for my taste. For a 10 year old bourbon this pour is void of any signs of oak.
Finish: Lot of rye spice and cinnamon on the finish. Touch of caramel. Super long.Warms up the chest for minutes after tasting. If I tasted this blind I would probably guess this to be a rye whiskey around the high 120’s.
Grade: 73 – 76 (C) = Below average
I actively searched out this bottle of O.K.I. Single Barrel bourbon selected by Big Red Liquor. Luckily a bourbon buddy (see what I did there?) from Indiana was able to secure a bottle for me. I was particularly intrigued to see if there was much of a difference between the Smooth Ambler Old Scout single barrel, cask strength offerings and the O.K.I single barrel, cask strength offerings. They are both sourced bourbons from MGP and some of my favorite Old Scout private selections have been from the high rye mashbill. The same mashbill as this bottle O.K.I.. My expectation was that I would be getting at least a good bottle of bourbon based on my experience with the high ryes from Smooth Ambler, and potentially a great bottle depending on the barrel. Unfortunately, I got neither.
Maybe my palate just can’t enjoy a spice bomb like others? I’m not sure, but I’m certain I have never tasted a Old Scout offering like this O.K.I. before. Which begs the question. Is Smooth Ambler doing anything different than other distilleries like New Riff or Nelson’s Green Brier (Belle Mead) that use the same sourced bourbon? Maybe Smooth Ambler only selects a certain profile of barrels? Or maybe they simply get first pass at the best barrels MGP has to offer?Tags: Bourbon, bourbon blog, bourbon ranking, bourbon review, cleveland, O.K.I. Single Barrel Review, Whiskey blog, Whiskey review