Castle and Key Bourbon is Not Great and Now I Feel Bad.

It looks nice though

It’s conflicting when good people release a completely shitty bourbon. The dichotomy is present in the aesthetics of the bourbon itself. There’s a gorgeous etched bottle, hefty espresso tamp cap, and then extremely thin, pale straw “I have a drug test coming up” piss hue looking like a malnourished Basil Hayden.

But it’s made by a cool staff.

The eye rolling begins with a heft spoonful of CIRCUMSTANCES: this is made at the original Old Taylor Distillery. Legend has it that this tater holy land still has wreaths and myrrh laid in front of the warehouse by flipper missionaries. Then on the day of release, the distillery let those corn chuds come in and buy 12 per person. Over 1000 people showed up and they dropped it to 1-2pp. It was gone instantly and this not good $55 bottle suddenly finds itself in the $200 secondary realm.

If you’ve ever gone mountain biking and fly down the trail above your ability level, things go sideways quickly.

The nose is cradle robbing to the point where the 4 year feels closer to a 2 year Willett. It has that sickly sweet Frosted Flakes white lightning with soft pithy apple and a kind of foil bag stale Corn Pops thing happening.

The palate is where things get more phoned in than Spirit Halloween memes. If this were meat it would be chicken tartare. It’s not ready yet, put it back, the kernels aren’t even popped. There’s iodine and Martinellis, lemon sharpie, melon and nautical hull solvent. It finishes with Haribo peach ring and turpentine. It burns like hazmat despite being 98 proof. Yes she is single, extremely hot, and wildly unbalanced so you will end up paying for it one way or another, as is tradition.

Castle and Key shined as a contract distillery where you could lovingly admire the dust on the Pinhook bottles and go about your day. The grounds are great, the people are nice but drinking this is the bourbon equivalent of transferring gasoline with your mouth using a garden hose. I do respect that they didn’t just sell MGP to stay afloat. Master distiller Marianne Eaves is a complete bad ass.

In the end though, I’m not trying to drink marmalade and carpenter’s epoxy.

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