Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Western Spirits Beverage Company
Distillery: Sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery(ies)
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: 16 Years
Mashbill: 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
Color: Dark Copper
MSRP: $160 (2023)
Western Spirits Beverage Company was established in 2008, and according to the company it was “founded to focus on a vision to build unique, innovative spirits brands.” This includes the Calumet Farm Bourbon brand, which they say honors the rich history and legacy of Calumet Farms in Lexington, Kentucky. The company sources all of their bourbon for their various brands, and while the distillery is undisclosed, the mashbill points to it most likely being sourced from the Barton 1792 Distillery. Calumet Farm 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon is part of the company’s Single Rack Black premium bourbon line which consists of 19 barrel batch sizes.
Melted caramel, stewed apples, and sweet bread make up the foundation of the aroma. These scents aren’t overly expressive, and instead maintain a steady intensity and are each effective in their own way. Aged oak, light peach, and a touch of cola round things out making for an enjoyable aroma. Overall the composition works quite well though it's held back by its tempered intensity.
Equal amounts of hazelnut, molasses, and cocoa powder form the palate’s flavor profile. Good intensity and flavor pop help the palate come alive though it doesn’t go much beyond that. It’s a straightforward sip that offers nothing more beyond the opening trio of flavors. That said, while the palate’s dominating three flavors coalesce well, they leave you wanting a bit more.
A front of dry aged oak overtakes the bourbon during its finish. It’s followed by light tannins, fresh tobacco leaf, and clove. There’s a further lingering light soy sauce note that pops at the tail end of the finish, which is surprising and mildly off-putting. The finish definitely ends the sip on a punctuated note with the bourbon’s age coming through most noticeably as it ends. With a mix of mature oak, mustiness, and light bitterness, there’s no mistaking that this is an old bourbon.
High aged bourbon is still rare nowadays. While we’ve seen a moderate influx of 13, 14, and 15 year old bourbons over the past few years, most have been regulated to limited releases with low bottle counts, and many have originated from the same Tennessee source. Calumet Farms has somehow bucked that trend. They also offer 14 and 15 year old bourbons, and along with the 16 year old release, tend not to be heavily allocated and found in decent numbers in stores that carry the brand. This is great for anyone looking to experience a high aged Kentucky bourbon and experience the typical flavor profile that accompanies the increase in age without having to pull their hair out trying to find a bottle.
Calumet Farms 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon doesn’t go out of its way to offer its own take on a mature tasting bourbon. It features the expected dry oak, mustiness, and tannins often found in older bourbons. It further adds manageable amounts of molasses, tobacco, and clove which isn’t found in every old bourbon, but certainly isn’t revolutionary in its own right. That sums up Calumet Farm 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon. There is little out of the ordinary flavorwise, with its main standout trait being its combination of high age and price point.
There’s little doubt if most came across a 16 year old bourbon for $160 on a store shelf they would grab it. With some 14 and 15 year old limited edition bourbons going for $200+, $160 for a 16 year old Kentucky bourbon seems like a no brainer. With the rarity of seeing high aged bourbon at a similar price point nowadays, the case could be made that Calumet Farm 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon offers tremendous value. There is definitely some truth to that from a pure “age equals value” standpoint. With high aged bourbon though, there is always an increased risk that the longer a bourbon rested in a barrel, the more potential harm that came to it as higher age does not always equate to better flavor. Calumet Farm 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon doesn’t seem to have crossed into that over-oaked territory, but that’s not to say it gets a pass either. This isn’t a finely aged bourbon, though it isn’t a detrimentally flawed one either. It's somewhere in the middle, and while some will feel $160 is still a good value for it, it doesn’t quite hit the mark to fully justify its price. I’ll give credit to Calumet Farm for not overpricing it, and offering it at a fair market price, which you see very little of in this age and price range nowadays. Though I still feel like it's pricier than what the sip commands.
An impressive age statement and relatively low price (in today’s market) aren’t quite enough to fully justify its slightly above average sip.
Calumet Farm 16 Year Old Straight Bourbon is not unlike what you’d expect a high aged bourbon to taste like. Its main issue is that it doesn’t bring much else to the table. While it’s the highest aged and highest proof bourbon the company produces, it tastes like a defacto aged bourbon except it doesn’t offer any overt fruit notes, spicy notes, or anything else unique for that matter. It would be great to say this is a great plan B for anyone that can’t get a hold of an Eagle Rare 17 Year or other high aged limited release, but the truth is, it’s more like a plan C. That’s not to say the bourbon doesn’t have anything to offer, or that on face value its price isn’t decent based solely on its age, it's just the bourbon doesn’t bring its A game. Its impressive age will make a statement in your collection, but unfortunately its sip won’t follow suit.