The continuing rise of bourbon fever has created a bonanza of new distillers for lovers of America’s original whiskey. Paul Sutton Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a great example; it’s been more than 100 years since Paul Sutton, together with his brothers and sons, created his richly deep and sweet family mash—Granddad Paul’s original recipe disappeared in time and circumstances—but now seventh-generation descendent Myra Barginear—taking a break from her successful oncology career—has reimagined his legacy.
Indeed, the recipe is all about the Suttons’ legacy and commitment to craft. Even the ornate bottle, replete with raised lettering and a bronze inset monogrammed medallion, exudes “top-shelf” worthiness. Self-described as a “small-batch, hand-drawn, limited blend,” the bottle is also hand-marked “Batch 113,” along with the bottling date of “2/21.” Even the bottle’s thick-bottom construction adds to the whiskey’s high-end look.
In the glass, the whiskey offers an inviting deep amber glow. Swirling releases unmistakeable bourbon aromas: warm brown sugar, pecan praline, and caramel, with notes of candied cherries and orange zest, followed by a soft hint of newly-cut pine.
On the palate, the entry is softer and smoother than its 50% ABV might suggest. Despite being a blend of corn, rye, and malted barley, the mouthfeel is all corn whiskey. I wouldn’t characterize it in any way as “unique.” Quite to the contrary, I’d venture that most tasters would classify it a solid representation of classic bourbons—all at once oily, intense, sweet, and woody.
Many of the flavors develop in a crescendo of waves during the swallow, starting with a pervasive molasses-heavy brown sugary nuttiness. Dark chocolate-covered citrus floats on burnt caramel, all over a foundation of ever-present cherry syrup. The finish is long and luxurious, with brown-sugary sweetness leading into a drying woodiness. Finally, hints of bitter chocolate and orange zest finish with a surprisingly long wood and caramel afterglow.
So, is this whiskey all sunshine and roses? No. It has the slightly rough edge you’d expect of a young bourbon. A touch of water softens the overall impact, refocusing away from the sweetness in favor of more subtle flavors. Either way, I would say that Paul Sutton Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a worthy first release. The $68 price point places the bottle in some fancy company, but if you’re on a bourbon-discovery sojourn, this bottling is well worth considering.