Review: Nine Banded Bourbon, Wheated Bourbon, and Wheated Bourbon Cask Strength
Nine Banded hit the scene in 2019 with a blended whiskey, made from Kentucky stock and mixed up in Austin, Texas. Now we’re back with three new releases from the brand. They’re all made from Indiana-based MGP stock now, but again they’re all proofed with local, limestone-heavy water (which may explain one commenter’s note about a chalky aftertaste on the original bottling). We’ll discuss product details for each whiskey as we delve into the lineup. Let’s get our armadillo on!
Nine Banded Bourbon – Made from an odd mashbill of 87% corn, 11% rye, and 2% malted barley; at least two years old. I was expecting a barrel bomb on the nose, but this bourbon is surprisingly fully formed, even at its youthful age. The nose has a husky quality that evokes fresh leather and light notes of pepper, softened up by elements of banana and a touch of tangerine peel — and a clear note of creamy nougat waiting in the wings. The palate follows those expectations, offering a semi-sweet, almond-dusted experience that folds in notes of lemon curd, vanilla, and a little dark chocolate. Ample peanut eventually comes into focus on the finish — this isn’t a whiskey that can hide from its age forever — but even that has a buttery exuberance that’s hard not to like. This is a straightforward experience on the whole, but one with more promise than you might expect. 90 proof. B / $32
Nine Banded Wheated Bourbon – Made from a wheated MGP mash of 51% corn, 45% wheat, and 4% malted barley. Again, at least two years old. Side by side, the softness that the wheat mashbill creates here is immediately undeniable, even before you take a sip. Some of that pepper still fires up the nose, but elements of vanilla, cream soda, and dried florals keep it in check. The palate’s a whole different animal: Instantly sweet with notes of sorghum syrup, marzipan, and a load of fresh white flowers, the whiskey hits the palate like a Swedish princess cake, chewy and creamy and hinting at berry-driven elements. Soft as silk, the finish offers some sweet breakfast cereal elements, ample vanilla, plus a touch of Hershey’s milk chocolate — maybe a bit waxy, but lovely in its sense of nostalgia. 90 proof. B+ / $32
Nine Banded Wheated Bourbon Cask Strength – Same as the above, but at 57.5% abv. Lots of familiar DNA in this whiskey, with ample butterscotch and vanilla kicking things off on the nose and the palate. Notes of cola, milk chocolate, and a healthy slug of pepper and baking spice give the whiskey a hefty kick. The higher alcohol level of course is the big shift here, and it’s helpful in tempering some of the sweetness and giving the whiskey more punch, smoothing out a bit of the dessert-like character that the standard expression exudes, letting the whiskey’s toasty granary notes remain lively on the finish. Whether you like this expression or the standard version is largely just a matter of personal taste. For my money, I think the cask strength has a better sense of balance. 115 proof. B+ / $36
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