Father John Rayls
Luxco is at it again with their latest release of Blood Oath Pact No. 3 Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Of all bourbons, the Blood Oath series seems to create two camps: lovers and haters. I find very few bourbon drinkers somewhere in the middle. Once again this is a blend of high rye sourced whiskey aged in Kentucky. It involves a 12 year bourbon, a 7 year bourbon and a 7 year bourbon finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels partnered with Swanson Vineyards located in the Oakville region of Napa Valley. This winery is highly respected and is known for limited small batch wines. It’s bottled to correspond with a typical body temperature of 98.6. Luxco is highly secretive about mashbill, sources and percentages. The emphasis is on hype, outrageous storyline, marketing and packaging. It is sold as a premium bourbon whiskey, but everyone has a different understanding of that term. You know it’s going to cost “mucho dinero”, but does it match the rest of the expectations? The packaging certainly meets those requirements, but most bourbon drinkers I know are primarily interested in flavor, proof and cost. It’s the total experience vs cost that really matters. It’s called “bang for the buck”.
The color is a highly polished copper with golden highlights. The legs are easily observed. They appear thin and quickly run to the bottom of the glass. Contrary to the Luxco Blood Oath website description, the nose is light with typical notes of vanilla, caramel, oak over some very light sweet fruit. The Cabernet Sauvignon exerts great influence. The mouthfeel is a very light creamy experience. On the palate, the sherry influenced bourbon exerts a very present, lightly sweet and very smooth experience. All of this takes place at mid-mouth. However, the best part of this tasting is in the finish. It is a spicey, peppery finish that is experienced at the back of the mouth and somehow transports itself briefly to the tip of the tongue as it continues in full force at the back of the throat. It is a medium to long finish that is very enjoyable.
Blood Oath Pact #3 is positioned as a premium bourbon whiskey. It retails at $99.99. That, of course is a problem for many people that enjoy a good bourbon tasting experience. When you consider that the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection is priced (at least theoretically) at less than $90.00, this sets up an overwhelming comparison. Blood Oath 3 is nowhere close to George T Stagg, William Larue Weller, Thomas H Handy, Eagle Rare 17 Year Old or Sazerac Rye 18 Year Old all of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. (I actually purchased a Thomas H Handy Sazerac Rye recently at $89.95). There are many excellent bourbons priced under the $60.00 price point that will deliver at least an equal experience for a fraction of the cost. It’s very difficult to justify the cost of Blood Oath 3 vs the experience or flavor profile towards other excellent bourbons for a much smaller price footprint. However, the enjoyment of a truly great bourbon whiskey is a very personal thing subject to our own tastes and values and perceptions.