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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Castle & Key Wheated Bourbon

The Castle & Key Distillery has been one of our favorite recent additions to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The historic grounds are incredible to walk and witness the work that has been poured into restoring the former Old Taylor Distillery to its former glory. After a long wait, bourbon is once again being bottled along Glenn’s Creek. We enjoyed their Small Batch #2 - how will Castle & Key Wheated Bourbon compare?

The New Old Taylor Distillery

Castle & Key Distillery is based at the renovated Old Taylor Distillery. In 2021, seven years after restoration began, partners Will Arvin and Wes Murry added the site to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. In 1887, Colonel E.H. Taylor began distilling bourbon at the site, the first of its kind to be designed as a tourist destination. Visitors would pass the 534-foot-long brick warehouse bearing Taylor's name on excursion trains from nearby Frankfort. Taylor even built a train station - Taylorton Station - that, today, serves as a walk-up cocktail bar where visitors can walk the impressive gardens and see the original springhouse. If you haven't yet visited this historic site, I highly encourage it, especially since the Woodford Reserve distillery and visitor's center is, literally, "just down the road around the bend".

The Tasting

Our bottle is from Batch #1, released in the Fall of 2022, and is labeled as bottle number 06737. Batch #1 was a blend of 49 barrels. The label further states the bourbon has been aged for 5 years and bottled at 100 proof. The mash bill is proportionally identical to the Batch #2 bourbon we sampled, with the exception that wheat has replaced the rye flavoring grain: 73% white corn, 10% wheat, and 17% malted barley. Like all Castle & Key products, it is presented in a heavy glass bottle, with a stopper fashioned after the chandelier in the Grecian-style springhouse.

Color: Medium copper with thin legs displayed inside the Glencairn glass.

Nose: Kraft caramel candy with notes of summer peaches and apple along with lighter notes of spearmint and grass.

Palate: Caramel and fruit continue to display themselves, along with spicy herbs and more fruit notes. On the backside, there is oak and a fair amount of spice with a slight burn - surprising me for a wheated bourbon.

Finish: Medium with butterscotch, grains, oak char and spice.

Overall: Not bad ... but not inspiring either. This was pleasant, and I've certainly tasted way, way worse. It fine, but to be honest, I think I enjoyed the Small Batch #2 better, even though this one has been aged an extra year.

Priced at $49, it's hard to find a more handsome bottle of bourbon. I'm still waiting to see if they release a Bottled-in-Bond expression. Rumor has it that it may be coming soon. If your favorite store doesn’t carry Castle & Key bourbons, be sure to check out some of the Pinhook line that carries similar mash bills, and is produced and aged at Castle & Key. I’ve found the flavor profiles to be similar and the bottles a little easier to procure.

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