The Rebel Yell review
Company: Heaven Hill
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Breakdown: Unknown entirely but the general assumption is that it is 20% wheat
Price: c. £26
The history of Rebel Yell is entwined with some of the giant names of the bourbon world. Owned by Luxco, distilled and bottled under contract by Heaven Hill at their Bernheim distillery in Louisville Kentucky. The juice itself is made using the W L Weller’s original wheat bourbon recipe, which dates back to 1849, and was created at the site of what would eventually become the Stitzel-Weller distillery and sold under the logo “Honest whiskey at an honest price”. The brand name of Rebel Yell was introduced in 1936 and originally only distributed to the southern states of America. It took nearly another 50 years before this changed and it was distributed further nationally and overseas.
Aside from this standard offering there is also a Small Batch Reserve, Small Batch Rye, American Whiskey (a blend of bourbon and rye) and a 10 year old Single Barrel, which we have heard is an absolute little cracker!
It allegedly has a number of famous fans, with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones probably the most famous. The story also goes that Billy Idol’s 1983 hit Rebel Yell was inspired by seeing The Stones necking the bourbon!
What we got – Sweet, oak, wood, cherry (Mav), butter (Mr Pie), creamy, nuts,
What they say we should get - Honey, vanilla, slightly woody raisin and candy sticks
What we got – Wood, honey (Mr Pie), quite dry, nuts, fruits of some kind (Mav being very vaugue there)
What they say we should get – Sultanas, nectarine and hints of prune. Vanilla throughout
What we got – Too short, weak and to us it felt a bit watery
What they say we should get – Warming pressed apple
To be honest (which from day one was always our goal), this bourbon is somewhat disappointing. The availability of it in the UK is poor and access seems to be only via on-line portals.
The price of £26 is a little steep for what it actually delivers. The nose is a little deceptive as first impressions are good and you would think on the nose alone that the ABV level is higher than the bourbon minimum. Overall it is a little bit rough around the edges and would benefit from a few further years in the barrel. Most of us already know that the Van Winkle’s seem to have nailed the wheated bourbon market but they wait 10 years before it is released and drinking this indicates why.
You are able to pick out honey, fruits and nuts which are all very pleasant but overall it is very very short and wishy washy. It is known as bottom shelf bourbon in the US and as you can imagine, it is inexpensive. Saying all of this, we would not be put off trying others in the range and we’ve not heard a bad word about the 10 year old single barrel. If you live in the UK, and want to spend £26 on wheated bourbon, the Gents recommend you go grab yourself a bottle of Maker’s Mark.
4 out of 10 - Mav
4 out of 10 - Mr. Pie