Whiskey

J.W. Kelly: Old Milford Single Barrel Select

Bourbon made in Tennessee and double oaked for 8-12 months.

J.W. Kelly: Old Milford Single Barrel Select

Bourbon made in Tennessee and double oaked for 8-12 months.
109 Proof 5-8 Years

Mashbill: Undisclosed

Want to skip the fluff? Jump to the review summary.

read

The Story

“They’ve got something called ‘J.W. Kelly’ – it’s a single barrel. Ya interested?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer this question when I saw the text message pop up on my phone. It was our co-founder, Justin. He was at a liquor store about 45 minutes away doing his usual bottle hunting. I thought for a minute and responded.

“How much?” I asked.

“$55” he replied. “Just talked to the shop owner. He says it’s really good.”

‘What the hell, why not’ I thought. Sure, it was a bit of a gamble but the liquor store owner who had recommended it really did know his whiskey. So I took a gamble.

“Yeah, might as well grab it. 🤷‍♂️ Thanks bud” I replied.

Then the bottle just kinda sat awhile; I didn’t immediately open it since I wasn’t particularly excited for it, and truth be told, I was a bit worried it might have been a waste of money.

I knew nothing of J.W. Kelly or the bottles it produced at the time. But being the Bourbon Nerd I am, I made sure to satisfy my curiosity by researching them online. Here’s what we can expect from this bottle, according to their website:

“Also born and raised in the scenic city of Chattanooga TN, J.W. Kelly’s original Single Barrel Bourbon was bottled at cask strength, creating a handmade style with its own unique flavors.

Reborn in 2016, this unique single barrel, coming in at 109 proof, is hand bottled and double oaked. Every barrel is selected from barrels 5-8 years old. Once the barrel has been selected it is then transferred into a new American oak barrel and aged for another 8-12 months.

Every barrel will be different and have its own personality. That’s the benefit of a single barrel, amazing taste, flavors and an amazing surprise with every glass.”

Being a huge fan of ‘double oaked’ expressions, I immediately perked up (or my taste buds did, for that matter). While 5-8 years of aging isn’t anything particularly impressive , the added 8-12 months in another barrel should give it more character.

After taking a look at these data points, I was ready to dig in.

Nose

Really sweet. And the maple syrup note stands out above all else. It’s sweet all around – pretty typical caramel and vanilla with some brown sugar. Right underneath all that sweetness you get a fair amount of oak. It’s kinda hiding in plain sight – you may need to pull your nose out a bit so the sweetness can dissipate before it reveals itself.

Palate

The nose does not deceive here. Interestingly, the presentation of flavors kinda swaps places on the palate. Right upfront, you get a bit of dry oak notes. But it’s not long-lived – that powerful sweetness takes center stage in a big way. That quickly gets replaced with the strong maple syrup flavors. There’s a fair bit of spice, too – mostly black pepper but a touch of baking spice as well.

Finish

The finish is quite sweet with some toasted oak notes. It’s really a pleasurable finish. And somewhat long – let’s say medium-long. You feel it going almost all the way down. Mostly, it carries on the flavors of the palate with a bit stronger cinnamon flavor and a touch of soy sauce.

Verdict

It probably won’t be surprising you from nose to palate, but I think this bottle going to surprise you in general. Never did I think I would enjoy the bottle this much from a company I’d never even heard of before grabbing it. It’s definitely on the sweet side but there’s enough spice to balance it out. For $55, it’s definitely worth the value and worth picking up. I imagine most Bourbon-lovers would enjoy this bottle – save for maybe the most die-hard, spice-loving enthusiasts. We’re very glad we decided to pick it up, and we believe you will be pleased too if you decide to grab one.

Make a stack of flapjacks - you’ve already got the maple syrup.

It’s unapologetically sweet - and we love that. We went into this bottle with no expectations and were blown away by what we experienced. It’s mostly sweet, somewhat spicy, with a fair amount of oak. What’s not to love here?

8out of 10
rating scale
Meet the author
Homebar staff member
Kevin
Kevin is the founder of Homebar.io. His enduring love for trying out different cocktail recipes and home bartending for friends is what led him to create Homebar. In addition to being a (very) amateur mixologist, he’s also a huge whiskey enthusiast and bottle collector. When he’s not voraciously learning about spirits and cocktail-making techniques, you can find him spending time with his family and his Golden Retriever, Molson.

Homebar.io

Get updates from our blog and more.

Sign up to keep up to date on everything Homebar is up to - including updates on the app, blog posts, news and more.