Castle & Key Bourbon (Batch 1)

Today we’ll have a look at the first batch of Castle & Key bourbon to roll out under their banner.  If you recall a while back, I reviewed Pinhook Bohemian, which was Castle & Key distillate at a much younger age of 34 months.  I was fairly impressed with how the liquid was when it was still shy of three years, so I’m interested to see what a four year expression does.  Let’s dig in!


John H.




June 24th, 2022

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As mentioned in the intro, Castle & Key has been producing whiskey for a few years; this release, however, is the first under their own name. As they say on their website, they have been patient with the release of their bourbon.

While Pinhook bourbon has released at younger than three years, this release of small batch bourbon is coming to us at four years old with a mash bill of 73% White Corn, 10% Rye, and 17% Malted Barley.

Since the beginning, we looked forward to the time that we could share our bourbon with the world. Now, we raise a toast with the first proprietary bourbon to be distilled and released by Castle & Key from the restored grounds of the historic Old Taylor Distillery in nearly five decades.

Castle & Key Distillery

This release comes in a pretty stunning bottle, and certainly landed with a good amount of fanfare.  I’m happy to get to tasting this one, so let’s get to it.

Tasting Notes…

Nose – Sweet with a faintly nutty background.  While not overly complex on the nose, there’s nothing jumping out as seeming off-profile or scary here.  Very light oak, some nuttiness, and a splash of white fruits.

Taste – Sweet and brings forward a light cornbread vibe with some mild oak influence.  There’s a praline note that reminds me a bit of a youngish Heaven Hill profile in a good way, and a little honey drizzle on some white fruit.

Finish – Not quite medium, it sort of rolls of quickly.  Good flavors all in all, but nothing gripping.  Some vanilla mingles with almond brittle and some young oak.

Bourbon Finder Grade: C

Final thoughts…

All in all this is about average in terms of flavor.  Not exciting, but not flawed or bad in any way.  I still think it may be a couple years from hitting its stride and being a contender with products in its price range–but it’s a good sip and I’m sure as the age increases the depth of flavor will follow.

Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!

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