I’m well on the record for wanting more wheated whiskey products. Maker’s Mark are essentially the poster child for wheated bourbons (wheater) thanks to their quality, availability, and pricing. Look elsewhere and you’re all but guaranteed to come up short, regardless of whether the options are quality or not. One of the last cases I examined was Rebel, Lux Row’s entry-level wheater. To say I was unimpressed would be a considerable understatement.
However, Lux Row have surprised me on a couple of occasions, with the most recent example being their entry-level Ezra Brooks bottling. Calling it outright impressive may be disingenuous, but considering my previous exposure and the price point, I’d say it left a strong enough impression. And although I’m not always of the belief that more proof is inherently better, it does usually result in a more robust and flavorful drinking experience. Which brings us back to Rebel—the 100 proof bottling, more specifically. This is almost certainly a less proofed down version of the aforementioned dud. Was the 80 proof bottling of Rebel simply too watered down for its own good, or does its hotter variant still come up short? Let’s have a look:
Nose: Yeasty. Bread dough with a lightly dry peanut or saw dust note. Muted vanilla, citrus peel, and pepper.
Palate: Barely avoids feeling thin. Backbone is reminiscent of almond butter. Honeyed bread and light brown sugar on the front to mid-palate while a black and red pepper flake combo give this a spicy feel on the back.
Finish: A smattering of oak, lightly salted nuts, and more black pepper.
Good news first: Rebel 100 is a notable step above its slightly cheaper iteration. I don’t mind drinking this, thanks mostly to a just-tangible supply of flavors that reveal the beginnings of a potentially solid whiskey. But that’s just the thing: Rebel 100 doesn’t feel like a final product. What we actually have is something that, were I on a distillery’s tasting team, would make me say “let’s revisit it in a couple years.”
The best case I can make for Rebel 100 is that it’s appropriately priced. $20 for a whiskey that may offer a slightly different experience for the more discerning drinker is hardly the worst proposition out there, even if the actual experience is nothing to write home about. Rebel 100 simply isn’t suited for enjoying neat, and with regards to cocktails, I’d have an easier time spending an extra $5 on Maker’s Mark to get a stronger main ingredient.