Thursday, June 21, 2018

Tasting: Rebel Yell

A couple of years ago, the rebranded Rebel Yell bottles slowly started to see the light of day in the Danish Whisky stores. Since it was reasonably priced, I picked up a bottle of their 90.6 proof Small Batch Reserve, without knowing much about the brand, other than the juice is distilled at Bernheim distillery by Heaven Hill and the Rebel Yell brand is owned by Luxco.

I went home with my newly bought bottle and started reading up on the brand, only to placed the bottle in the back of my cabinet, where it has been sitting unopened ever since. Recently, I ordered a variety of different whiskeys from an online whiskey store, and they mistakenly sent me a bottle of the 40 proof Rebel Yell Whiskey. When I mailed them to correct the mistake they simply asked me to keep the bottle free of charge, and suddenly I was left with two unopened versions of Rebel Yell’s whiskies.

So why didn’t I crack open my bottle years ago? Seriously, have you ever read about the Rebel Yell brand? Though admittedly I’m a sucker for James Dean and Marlo Brando, and Rebel without a cause and The wild one are killer movies, I find Luxco’s whole “risk takers, rule breakers and noisemakers united, join the band of rebels” motorcycle nightmare marketing spin, unintentional funny in regard to a whiskey brand, and truth be told, it completely made me lose my interest in the whiskey itself.

Rebel Yell doesn’t reveal their mash-bill, other than the whiskey was made using wheat, corn and malt, but they do say that their recipe has been passed down by outlaws for more than 150 years. I’m not sure if Charles Farnsley or the good people at the Stitzel-Weller distillery who use to produce Rebel Yell would describe themselves as such, but then again, who am I to say?

Rebel Yell describes their whiskey as “surprisingly smooth”. Very often, when a whiskey is being described as such, it means that it lacks character, and isn’t a full-bodied whiskey, let’s see if it’s the case here.

Rebel Yell
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Proof: 80
Mash bill: Unknown wheat, corn and malt mash bill.
Distillery: Luxco
Release: Ongoing
DK Price: $45,50USD/300DKK

58/100 points

Light with sweet corn and caramel, with a bit of Stimorol bubblegum spearmint in the back.

Taste somehow strangely watered down, which obviously it is - it’s an 80 proof bourbon - but what I mean is; that I taste like an 80 proof bourbon that has been watered further down. The palate is completely stripped down to the basic bourbon taste (like the kind there has been produced artificially in a laboratory). There’s a classic underlying caramel/vanilla taste, but it’s being dominating by an overwhelming taste of artificial sweeteners.       

Ultra short almost non-existing finish, that doesn’t leave much besides a bit of an alcohol burn in your mouth.

The rebel yell was original a battle cry used by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. Confederate soldiers used the yell during charges to intimidate the enemy and boost their own morale. I can very easily see why Luxco needs to boost their own moral, but trying to drown their product in the noise from motorcycle-engines, and applying to the young at heart isn’t going to help one tiny bit, the Rebel Yell 80 proof bourbon remains a paper tiger no matter how bad the biker looks.  

If you want to learn more about the Rebel Yell brand, then click here to read Seth Brown’s introduction.      

Photo & review by: Hasse Berg