In the weeks before I attended this event, I spent some time guessing at the bourbon’s cryptic name. There’s been a recent trend of using Viking references to brand premium whiskeys. Could that be it? Or perhaps it’s a shrewd tie in with the premier next week of Season 5 of Game of Thrones.
Neither was correct, as explained to me by Blood Oath creator John Rempe. Rather, the “oath” is an agreement by the drinker to accept the secret of the distiller. Which is that Rempe isn’t disclosing what blends went into his new bourbon.
He will admit that the three blends included two ryes — one spicy, one oaky — and a smooth-but-curvy, wheat-based bourbon. Also, these spirits were all aged between six and 12 years. Beyond that available information, however, your guess is as good as mine about the ingredients or where they came from.
It’s a matter of trust, of taking an oath to accept what’s in the glass. It’s also not that difficult of a decision. With 20-plus years in the business — having overseen the developments of numerous spirits, including Pearl Vodka and Rebel Yell — Rempe is someone I’m willing to trust when it comes to whiskey. Prior to launch, as he explained to me, a year of tinkering with countless blends went into getting the Blood Oath recipe just right.
The work shows. Priced in the premium category at $89.99, Blood Oath delivers to drinkers their money’s worth — at the very least, in terms of alcohol. At 98.6 proof (the typical human temperature) this bourbon packs a punch, several punches really, a whole volley. Discretion was in order last night at American Whiskey, as attentive waitresses repeatedly refilled my glass before I could even finish that round.
The bourbon’s aroma was quite appealing, with a spicy, peppery base. Strong-bodied, Blood Oath was also remarkably drinkable and well balanced. Upfront spices gave way to rich vanilla/cocoa flavors, before a long, dry finish, with subtler notes of spice and fruit. Stiff and potent, Blood Oath was thoroughly enjoyable.
The bourbon paired well with the American Whiskey appetizers, including aged cheese, mini burgers, and smoky Buffalo wings. It also paired well with the evening’s conversations, being a strong sipper to savor over time among companions.
The Blood Oath served to us last night was Pact No. 1, limited edition. Pact No. 2, consisting of an entirely new blend, will be released in 2016.