They say there’s no such thing as bad press. Tell that to Jeff Mattingly, founder of Bourbon 30 Spirits in Georgetown, KY. The J. Mattingly label first gained national attention with a series of very small batch blends called Old Baldy, a collaboration with Ed Bley of (at the time) Cork ‘N Bottle fame. J. Mattingly bottles were selling for incredible prices on the secondary market until one day, the sale of Bourbon 30 in these groups was banned. Two things happened in 2018 to cause these groups to take action.
The first issue has to do with plastic containers. As the story goes, someone doing a barrel pick observed a small batch of barrels being dumped into a brand new, unused garbage container in lieu of a more traditional storage vessel/tank/tun. Historically speaking, a never used plastic container is far from the worst thing whiskey has ever been temporarily stored in and doesn’t really bother me on a personal level. Of course, the connection of the brand to to word “garbage” has become a meme in itself with whiskey enthusiasts.
The second and more egregious accusation is that bottles of J. Mattingly were being purchased, then falsely “sold” on secondary markets for extremely high prices to drive up the secondary market value of that bottle and the brand as a whole. I don’t have a dog in this fight nor do I pay too much attention to the drama of the secondary groups but I certainly don’t like the idea of price manipulation at any level. I don’t know if these accusations are true and if so, I certainly don’t know who was involved.
The Internet has seemingly moved on from last year’s events and with that, a local barrel pick group I’m a part of sent a few people to Bourbon 30 to find a barrel worthy of bottling. After two solid days of experimentation, they ended up with a blend of 4 different barrels. Almost 95% of this blend is 12 years old with a small amount of 4 year old rye to round things out. The whiskey in these barrels was distilled in both Indiana and Kentucky. This bottle is part of the inaugural barrel picks for the Barrels on Barrels group. Cheers to Kevin and the team for their hard work on this!
|Nose||Toffee, vanilla, black cherries, toasted oak, pipe tobacco, cinnamon, slightly herbal underneath it all.|
|Taste||Big dried fruit, baking spice, milk chocolate, cherry cola, almond paste, slightly astringent oak. Mouth coating and drinks way under proof.|
|Finish||An initial wave of spice (clove and white pepper) paves the way to oak, honey, anise, and a touch of mid-palate smoke. Spice and oak remain for a long time. A dry but not TOO dry finish.|
|Overall Thoughts||This is a great example of the power of extremely small batch blending. Each of the four barrels that went into this expression contributed to the overall final product. This whiskey skews towards the dried fruit/cherry end of the spectrum with little orchard/stone fruit influence. It’s oak-driven with enough deep sweetness to keep me coming back. Kudos to my friends at Barrels on Barrels for a job very well done.|