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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

W. B. Saffell

Mom always said, “Keep your eyes open – you never know what might be around the corner.” Good words to live by – especially in a gas-station liquor store in Kentucky. You never know what you’ll find. 

As I peered around the corner of the shop, a small and colorful bottle caught my eye. Wow! Now that’s interesting. I wonder who produced this little gem. So, I pulled out my phone and got to researching.

William Butler “W.B.” Saffell – Whiskey Baron

Introduced in 2017, the Whiskey Barons Collection is produced by Campari and Wild Turkey. The collection pays homage to men who were instrumental in the development of bourbon.

Released in early 2019, W.B. Saffell celebrates William Butler Saffell. Born in in 1843, he began distilling whiskey as a teen. In 1889, he established a distillery and began operations near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky – not far from the current operations of Wild Turkey. W.B. died in 1910, but his distillery continued to churn out his namesake W.B. Saffell until Prohibition. Like many great brands, it disappeared and was not seen again – until now.

His brand of Kentucky bourbon received many accolades during the pre-prohibition era. The packaging was what caught my eye – a 375ml bottle containing a painting of W.B., his wife Frankie Bond, their 6 children, and his Romanesque mansion built in the 1890s.

The Tasting 

Saffell is bottled at a balmy 107 proof utilizing a non-chill filtration process. It is a blend of 6, 8, 10, and 12 year-old bourbons aged in Number 4 charred barrels. It’s interesting to note that a Number 4 char is the heaviest char available and is sometimes referred to as “alligator char”.  

The mashbill is classic Wild Turkey – 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. The large effect that subtle yeast and barreling differences have on the final product, and the control a master distiller exerts over them, is a testament to their skill, knowledge,  and commitment. When tasted, many would call Wild Turkey “spicy” and “hot” – though the amount of corn (that makes bourbon sweet) is much higher than most and the rye (which adds spice) is no more or even less than many name brands.  

Overall, this is one I liked. It’s a unique expression with an equally unique story that will impress your bourbon friends if you can lay eyes on this lovely bottle.

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