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Review: Rebel Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Ah, the heritage of the old south—the honored past of the war of Northern aggression and, antebellum, the peaceful pastoral days of the plantation.  For some reason this myth of the noble old south somehow pervades, perpetuated by Rhett Butler’s mustache, Aunt Jemima and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  While debates still rage over the appropriateness of the use of the Confederate flag, other parts of the heritage of the American Civil War find their way into brand labeling.  600,000 Americans died during the war, and yet the imagery of the confederacy is a marketing tool. In the whiskey world, this heritage is sold under the “Rebel Yell” label, and associated, the whiskey I’m drinking tonight: Rebel Reserve.  Rebel Yell takes its name from the ragged battle hollers that confederate soldiers used to muster their courage and strike fear into the hearts of their enemy.  I have nothing against the soldiers of the Confederacy, most of them poor, not slave owning, and fighting for their homes. I just think it’s a bit strange to name a whiskey after the last noises people made before they were likely bayoneted.  Still, I suppose it’s better than the extreme racism that was used to sell products up until, well, Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima.  Oh, that’s right; we still have branding based on racial stereotypes.

Anyways, you’re here to read about whiskey, and as always I’ve babbled incoherently for a paragraph.  Rebel Reserve is the premium version of the decidedly not-premium Rebel Yell.  Regular Rebel Yell is quite cheap and, I must admit, rather aptly named.  It’s untamed, hot and perhaps may induce a yelp.  It, like the yells of the rebels long ago, may also lead to you waking up with a leather belt in your mouth and a stub for a leg, if you drink enough of it.  It’s probably a good thing then that Rebel Reserve is a bit more refined, like Butler’s gentry accent.  It weighs in at a not unreasonable 90.6 proof, but unlike its cracker cousin it has a bit more balance that keeps that from eating away your vocal chords.  While the firey nose hides much of this whiskey’s aroma, the whiskey settles down on the palate to reveal an almost chewy caramel quality, some of the sweetness of the wheat in it, and something a bit darker I can’t quite pinpoint.  Maybe almost raisin-like?  The finish of this coats the palate and lingers warmly, with a slightly astringent flavor left as it dries my tongue, though that could be from my dinner.  This certainly isn’t a bad whiskey, and is a nice step-up from that crazy cousin, but it’s not exactly a standout.  Of course, for about $20 for a bottle of small batch bourbon in a numbered bottle, you aren’t going to get something outstanding.  In fact, I think that’s the problem.  This is budget bourbon brands attempt to make an upgraded product with premium marketing at a mid-range price.  So to attempt to make my metaphor work, this bourbon is a bit like Rhett Butler, polished up like the southern gentry, but still crude enough to own slaves.  I suspect this may be a bit of a controversial post…Image

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3 responses to “Review: Rebel Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon

  1. Heartafire ⋅

    Reblogged this on Heartafire.

  2. omtatjuan ⋅

    I believe I’ll have a mint julep and watch the derby. If I drank I would but I don’t so I won’t. You are quite eloquent and I do enjoy your paragraphs… Keep on writing!

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