Kentucky Owl’s parade of odd collaborations continues with the even more oddly titled Maighstir Edition, which is a joint production of Kentucky Owl’s Maureen Robinson and John Rhea. While Rhea was most recently the COO of Four Roses, he has been at Kentucky Owl for the last two years, with Robinson presently taking over. That means this is kind of an internal collaboration — not that we’re going to hold that against them. Robinson is Scottish and Rhea is American, so there’s a bit more of the gimmick there.
“Maighstir” (pronounced may-stir) is Gaelic for “Master.” As for what’s in the bottle, it’s designed based on Robinson’s “Scotch whisky blending skills,” and is made from a mix of 4, 5, 8, and 9 year old Kentucky Straight Bourbons, all sourced, with mashbills variously containing wheat and/or rye — making this a four-grain experience.
The goal here was to create something softer than the usual Kentucky bourbon fare, and I would say on that front it’s a rousing success. Decidedly light on the nose, the experience offers aromas that you might associate with bolder single malts — sesame seed and fresh malt, backed up with more than a little peanut shell to remind you that you are about to enjoy some bourbon, not a glass of Scotch.
All of these elements make a sustained impact on the palate, with those peanut notes dominating. Classic vanilla and some barrel char elements come into focus, then caramel corn and a layer of baking spice. Light and airy, the whiskey pushes through waves of gentle spice notes and some earth en route to a mild finish that again recalls sesame cookies tinged with a bit of green underbrush.
What then to make of all this? Fans of big bourbons will find it surprisingly innocent and shrug-worthy — drinking much more like a 4 year old than a 9 year old — but Scotch drinkers interested in branching out into what Kentucky has to offer may be much more charitable. I’m a bit on the fence as I can see its many well-crafted charms — but I will say that at $150, it’s an awfully tough sell.