Here at Drinkhacker we’ve previously covered Calumet “Single Rack Black” at 15 years old, which hit in 2021. Now, the whiskey’s a year older, and the label has been updated appropriately.
At the time Monica noted two things that continue to be true – the company behind this expression isn’t very well known and offers little in the way of differentiating between their two premium bourbon brands. For the Calumet Farm brand, Western Spirits Beverage Company has been releasing an assortment of well-aged products from what we’re told is, “a large private stock of premium Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.” One can surmise that their stock is indeed large as they use the same line when describing Sam Houston Bourbon Whiskey, their other premium bourbon brand, as well as in the website copy for the flavored Bird Dog Whiskey line.
We can further assume that large private stock comes from Barton 1792, though it isn’t stated outright, due to the fact the label for Calumet 16 says it was “distilled and aged in Bardstown, Kentucky.” Furthermore, this expression shares a mashbill with Barton 1792: 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. With that slight bit of sleuthing out of the way, we can dispense with some of the more readily available information. Calumet 16 Years Old is the oldest expression in what is being billed as the Single Rack Black lineup – a grouping of Calumet Farm’s highest age stated releases. All of these releases are 19-barrel batches from a single, center-cut rack inside the rickhouse. Additionally, each release, save for the 12 year old expression, is bottled without chill filtration for “added depth of character.”
Thirsty from my time spent parsing these details and perusing the back label, where a history lesson on Calumet Farm’s second Triple Crown winning horse can be found, I was immediately met by a different sort of winner. If this nose is meant to be indicative of the sweet smell of success, then bourbon enthusiasts will be pleased as notes of rich leather, fresh tobacco leaf, warm caramel, and imposing oak waft out of the glass. Not to be outdone by the first wave of aromas, a crest of brandied cherries arrives and then recedes with a splash of cinnamon and vanilla frosting in its wake. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this all continues to evolve in the glass as the indications of age (leather, oak, and tarragon) become more prominent and invite an aroma of mango dashed with paprika, salt, and lime to join them in due course.
Once at the lips, the race has already been won as polished oak and caramel lay a thick layer of sweetness over the palate while hints of tobacco leaf and the aforementioned cooked cherry flavors emerge. With the ideal amount of heat for such a well-aged expression, a lengthy finish provides plenty to enjoy: red pepper flakes mingling with cracked black pepper and sweet vanilla long after each sip has dissipated. Though I don’t know much about Western Spirits Beverage Company, I know that in any race it’s advisable to finish strong. I’m pleased to say Calumet 16 comes out of the gate with vigor and finishes just how it starts.
A / $150 / calumetbourbon.com