A couple of months ago I was graciously sent a sample of the new release of Blood Oath Bourbon. Between competitions, menu flips, leaving a job, and much needed vacation travel after leaving said job the sample unfortunately fell by the wayside. But with Halloween nearly upon us I figure it would be appropriate to crack open a little Blood Oath and see what it was about.
Blood Oath is a brand owned by Luxco, Inc. a beverage producer and marketer based out of St. Louis. In addition to Blood Oath Luxco also produces Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell, and distributes Yellowstone for Limestone Branch Distillery. While Luxco has sold bourbon for years they’re personal bourbon distillery, Lux Row Distillers, didn’t start production until January of 2018. Although their first year of production outpaced projections none of the whiskey they’ve distilled is old enough to be used for any of their brands meaning the Blood Oath is a sourced whiskey.
Now, sourced isn’t a dirty word and while I wish Luxco was open about where they sourced the whiskey they at least are open about the fact that Blood Oath is sourced and blended. In fact, Blood Oath boldly claims that they are “loyal to no one family, favoring no one distillery, and bound by no one philosophy.” The cynic in me wants to say that’s marketing speak for “we can’t guarantee a source” but blending is an art form that can produce some spectacular bottlings so let’s take the idea at face value. The Blood Oath isn’t trying to create a consistent bottling but rather a unique, limited, yearly offering. So, what’s in the Blood Oatch Pact this year?
Pact 5 is a blend of three whiskies a 13 year old rye Bourbon, an 11 year old wheated bourbon, and an 8 year old rye bourbon finished in Caribbean rum barrels. Bottled at 98.6 proof (the temperature of the human body) we don’t know the distilleries or the proportions of the blend but given Luxco’s working relationships it’s not too much, of a leap to assume that a lot of the whiskey comes from Heaven Hill. Also, considering the current state of aged whiskey it’s probably also fair to assume the bulk of the blend is the 8 year. This is noteworthy because it is this rum finish that really sets the Pact 5 apart from the previous four releases of Blood Oath.
NOSE: Vanilla, Red Apple, Cherry, Brown Sugar
PALETTE: Wet oak, molasses, earthy, candied citrus peel, clove, and a touch of hogo
FINISH: Short to medium, orange, pepper, and oak
The rum finish is surprisingly apparent once your mind is keyed to look for it. There’s a hint of that funk and brown sugar but without knowing it was a rum barrel I would have thought this was a slightly over oaked release.
It’s a touch sweet, a little aggressive, and surprisingly oaky all around. It’s a style that’s leaning into heavily oaked, older American whiskies which is certainly on trend. People are looking for flavors that are unique, big, bold, and a heavy barrel influence can make a spirit pop out of the more mellow distillates.
While the blend is interesting, I personally couldn’t justify the price point. At a suggested MMRP of $99.99 but often appearing on shelves at north of $110 I don’t know that it’s interesting enough to justify the “special occasion” pour of the price tag. This is something I’d rather sip, compare, and enjoy rather than store and dole out during the justifiable times that a 100+ dollar bottle usually enjoys.
I ultimately find myself wishing I had more context for the Blood Oath. There’s nothing bad with the Pact 5, aside from my hesitation on the price, but I don’t see a through line. I’ve had several of the previous Blood Oath’s and can’t connect the dots between the Pacts. While it’s all well and good to not have a “favorite” I would love to see a point of view that makes this whiskey more than an experiment.