Though it’s been aged just four years, the new Castle & Key Batch #1 offers tremendous depth.

In 2018 after spending several years and millions of dollars on renovations, Castle & Key Distillery opened on the landmark Old Taylor campus just outside Frankfort, KY.  Whiskey lovers immediately began to anticipate the bourbon efforts to come. Four years later, the wait is over, and the buzz only continues to build.

Leading off a two-part series, the operation unveiled its 98-proof Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey Batch #1 on March 26, with 1,500 bottles selling out at the distillery by 11 a.m. on the day of its release. Batch #2 is slated for a May arrival (each nicely styled bottle retails for $50). Get in line.

Joining an existing lineup that includes rye, gin and vodka, C&K’s Batch #1 bourbon boasts a mash bill of 73 percent white corn, 10 percent rye, and 17 percent malted barley. Happily, the quality of the spirit keeps up with the distillery’s gorgeous 113-acre curb appeal.

Don’t be fooled by the subtle honey nose. The first sip makes a bold impression with toasted nut at the forefront, easing into an intriguing graham cracker/sweet cream/yeasty sticky bun amalgamation before fading out with a hint of cinnamon and spice. The depth of flavor is impressive considering the batch only aged for four years.

Because the bourbon seems to evolve sip by sip, drinking Batch #1 neat is a no-brainer, although a small ice cube encourages the complexity of the expression to emerge. Don’t water it down with mixers. Just enjoy.