The original Rebel Yell recipe was invented in 1849, at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Kentucky (now owned by Diageo, and home to the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Experience).
The name Rebel Yell comes from the Confederate war cry, used during the American Civil War.
Rebel Yell’s parent company Luxco is currently building a new distillery on a 70-acre site in Nelson County, Kentucky. This will house all the company’s bourbon brands including Rebel Yell, when completed later next year.
Our tasting notes are below.
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon
First up was the Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
This is made using a mash bill of wheat, corn & malted barley and aged for at least 4 years.
It’s bottled at 40% ABV.
Initial nose has lots of sweet creamy vanilla; slight spice and apple blossom.
As it opens up, the creamy custard get stronger and some cherry / plum notes appear. Sugared almonds and mint toothpaste also present.
A lot going on in the nose.
Immediately much fruitier than the nose would suggest and that faint mint really pops in the arrival.
Tasting again get hints of honey and bitter orange.
That bitter orange transforms into a spicy note with light pepper and cloves.
Fairly short finish, though pleasantly astringent.
Very pleasant dram and it feels very well balanced on the sweet and spicy notes. Decent value too.
Small Batch Reserve
Rebel Yell Small Batch Reserve is made using a mash bill of wheat, corn & malted barley.
It is bottled at a stronger 45.3%.
Unexpected nose, initial notes are more like rum than whiskey.
Dark sugar, hint of black cherry, spearmint. Much ‘woodier’ in character.
There’s an oiliness there and don’t know if it’s my nose playing tricks, but almost getting a kirsch note?
As it develops aniseed, custard (Crème brûlée) and cloves are present.
That extra few percent ABV makes a big difference to the mouthfeel — much richers and oilier.
Quite tannic, cloves, leather cedar and charcoal.
There are some vanilla and orange notes, but it’s pretty full-on on the darker flavours.
Hot, dry, quite peppery. Sweetens in the finish, but only a little.
Leaves a slightly oily salty finish in the mouth, like cured meat.
Wasn’t sure what to make of this at all. Interesting, but I found the flavours a bit overpowering, though they did ease up with time.
Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye
Rebel Yell Small Batch Rye is made using a mash bill of rye, corn & malted barley.
It’s bottled at 45%.
Immediate smell is of honey lemon Strepsils — sweet, fruity and slightly medicinal.
Lots of floral notes, fruit salad sweets, tarragon (great note borrowed from Whisky Rover) and green apples.
The vanilla signature starts to appears now and some rich plum sweetness also coming through. Quite herbal with some beechwood smoke.
Could spend a long time on this nose.
Not as spiky as expected and quite restrained for a rye. Lovely milk chocolate notes and some soft fruit with the jelly baby / fruit salad sweetness.
Blackcurrant and a bit of mint also present.
Astringent finish — woody, slightly peppery, with dried ginger.
More on the nose than the palate with this one, but a lovely example of a well made Rye. It’s between this and the Straight Bourbon for me.