Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Lucky Seven Spirits
Distillery: Sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery
Release Date: January 2023
Age: 15 Years
MSRP: $170 (2023)
Lucky Seven Spirits (also referred to as “Lucky 7”) was co-founded by Michael Lahalih and John Pals. According to the company’s website, “Co-founders Michael Lahalih and John Pals have been best friends since their college years and share a common bond of bourbon and cinema. In fact, the Lucky 7 namesake is derived from the infamous Stage 7 in Hollywood, CA, where some of the greatest movies in cinema history were filmed. The warehouse-sized stage produced so many award-winning films that the industry started calling it ‘Lucky Stage 7.’” Lucky Seven The Proprietor 15 Year joins The Jokester, The Hold Up, The Holiday Toast, and previous The Proprietor releases, 6 Year, 12 Year, and 14 Year.
The bottle in review comes from barrel #92.
A whiff of black cherry, cranberry, and blueberry are followed by a dense mature oak scent. The nose is well balanced, finding even footing between its lush fruit scents and oakiness. It's largely straightforward and not overly complex, though this is the result of the aroma delivering everything its got all at once. As a result, the nose makes a statement very matter-of-factly and it doesn’t have anything to hide. It's confident, gives off a warming presence, and is quite effective overall.
A sweet mix of raspberry, black cherry, and strawberry makes for a delectable opening of the palate. Packed with boldness thanks to the whiskey’s proof, the sweetness is amplified and blossoms as the whiskey touches each part of your tongue. Soon after, a slightly musty, mature oak note intervenes, providing a welcome contrast. It's a manageable amount of oak, but equally as bold and impactful nevertheless. Its sweet fruitiness and mature oak meld well together, producing a yin and yang relationship that is surprisingly well-balanced despite its overall potency. It’s very well done overall, creating a positive impression immediately.
A sudden ramp up of sweet raspberry and strawberry combined with the ever-present mature oak carried over from the palate, makes for a delightful tour de force. As the fruitiness wears off, the mature oak note is left to linger. From there, brown sugar, molasses, and leather are exposed, and the bourbon concludes on a heavy dark note. With just the right amount of complexity and flavor theatrics, the finish ends almost as nicely as the palate started.
Lucky Seven quickly made a name for themselves when they released their 12 year old The Proprietor and quickly followed it up with a 14 year old version. A year later, they’re back with a 15 year old release. Yet they aren’t the only ones with a 15 year old bourbon on the market thanks to an abundance of 15 year old stock that hit the market over the last few years. Pappy Van Winkle, once the main flag holder of 15 year old bourbon, now faces more competition than ever thanks to Barrell Bourbon, Calumet Farms, Chicken Cock, George Dickel, I.W. Harper, Knob Creek, Sam Houston, Three Chord, Widow Jane, and more.
It's unknown where the majority of the sourced 15 year Kentucky stock is coming from (guesses include Barton, Beam, and Heaven Hill). It's hard to say if it’s even all coming from the same place. Some brands’ 15 year old offerings share similarities with others - as to be expected since they’re sourced - yet even within the single barrels Lucky Seven releases, there is a good degree of variation. Like with any bourbon, of any age, not all bourbons are created equal.
Lucky Seven has proven they have a knack for selecting great high aged barrels. Many of their 12 year and 14 year bourbons featured a plethora of sweet and fruity notes that contain a minor yet noticeable base of aged oak. Their 15 Year The Proprietor dials back some of the fruitiness and instead turns its attention to mature oak as the now prominent feature.
Comparing Lucky Seven’s 14 and 15 year releases proves to be a fascinating look at how a bourbon just begins to show its mature side. It is as if someone clicked the bourbon’s age dial one notch, and the result showcases the fine line bourbon has to manage when it hits high age. If the dial is turned too far, aged oak can completely overpower and potentially ruin a bourbon. This of course isn’t exclusive to Lucky Seven’s 15 year old bourbon, but the company does have a knack for finding barrels with a good balance of fruit and age with higher overall drinkability than most other brands.
There are more higher aged bourbons available now than ever before, but it's still not to the point where you can walk into any well stocked store and expect to pick one off the shelf. So while the majority of 15 year old bourbon available may be coming from only a few sources, at a high level, they share similarities, but there are enough differences on a per barrel basis to stand out from one another. Lucky Seven The Proprietor 15 Year isn’t featuring blaring uniqueness, but in the grand scheme of things, what it offers does help it stand out from other 15 year old releases on the market.
The price of 15 year bourbon has been all over the map for the last three years. Of the brands mentioned above, they range from $100 for I.W. Harper and Knob Creek, to $200+ for Widow Jane and Barrell Bourbon. Of course that is a drastic change from the days of Orphan Barrel offering Forged Oak 15 Year for $65 in 2015. Despite the greater opportunity to purchase 15 year old bourbon as of late, it still feels like a special occurrence to do so.
Lucky Seven 14 Year at $150 definitely felt like a steal at the time for the quality pour it offered. While many rightfully complain of the high prices of bourbon, if the opportunity is presented for a high aged, high quality bourbon at a relatively reasonable price, people jump on it. And why shouldn’t they? We’re all after just that, and Lucky Seven continually offers that with their The Proprietor releases.
Coming in at $170 for the company’s 15 year release is a reasonable bump for the extra year of aging it offers over their previous 14 year release. This particular single barrel doesn’t offer the same overly sweet and fruity flavor profile of many of the 14 year old barrels I've tasted from Lucky Seven, but the extra aged oak component is a rarity in the majority of bourbon for sale today, and definitely adds value when it's done right. There’s no denying that Lucky Seven is slowly creeping higher in price and will likely continue to do so, but a $20 bump in price is respectable and still keeps it well within the range of its peers. With the quality Lucky Seven has already offered in the barrels they pick, which is further demonstrated with this 15 year old single barrel, the company once again offers above-average value. Much as we laughed at $65 for Forged Oak at the time and it now seems like a steal, there’s a real chance we’ll laugh at how low $170 was for The Proprietor 15 Year in an equal amount of time in the future.
A beautifully aged bourbon that nicely showcases its aged oak component, without completely losing its sweet and fruity backbone.
Tasting through my many different high aged Lucky Seven releases, it's clear the company knows how to pick them. There’s a strong, consistent quality that runs throughout their high aged bourbons to the point where if I see one on the shelf, I buy it. While it remains to be seen what happens when the well runs dry, current day bourbon drinkers will be reaping the rewards until then.
Lucky Seven The Proprietor 15 Year is almost able to hit at the same level as its 14 year counterpart did, and coming close is due to a tradeoff of sweet fruit for aged oak. There have been a few releases, like the 19 year old Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Fall 2022 release that took its aged oak component too far to the detriment of the end product. The Proprietor 15 Year is just at the beginning of what might be a similar path Old Fitz 19 year found itself on, but The Proprietor stopped well short of a similar fate. The Proprietor dabbles with its aged oak component without going all in. It remains approachable, acting as a good introduction to high aged bourbon. Despite it not reaching the exact same height and pure drinkability of the brand’s 14 year version, it remains a must buy, and continues a great string of Lucky Seven The Proprietor releases.