Today, I am doing a bourbon review that I have wanted to do for a long time. I remembered it with mixed feelings from my college years, and I finally got around to giving it a whirl again and organizing my thoughts on Rebel Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Rebel Reserve is the big sibling to Rebel Yell, and it is (like Rebel Yell) distilled at Heaven Hill for the Luxco brand. Also like Rebel Yell, Rebel Reserve is a true wheated mash bill, filling in wheat instead of rye in the grain recipe. There is no age statement on Rebel Reserve, but I suspect it is about 6 years old, about 2 years older than Rebel Yell. Rebel Reserve is also bottled at 90.6 proof (45.3% abv), compared to Rebel Yell’s 80 proof.
On the nose, Rebel Reserve is very reminiscent of a younger wheated bourbon. There are notes of dense caramel, black cherries, and brown sugar. However, the nose also has that off-putting cherry aroma that can be a part of Evan Williams’ products from time to time. The palate is very one-tricked with a lot of caramel and sweet corn syrup coming through, with very little complexity. As the whiskey goes into the medium-long, very sweet finish, those weird cherry notes come up again for me, but more sour this time, as if those cherries have gone rotten.
On the whole, I am not a big fan of Rebel Reserve. If you read the blog a lot, you probably know that wheated bourbons tend not to be favorite bourbons unless they have a lot of age under their belt. Rebel Reserve reminds me a lot of Larceny and Maker’s Mark, two other wheated bourbons that I have reviewed and found lacking as well. That said, if Larceny and Maker’s Mark are bourbons that you enjoy, I think you will really enjoy Rebel Reserve, and it definitely sits at a price point that makes the buy a worthwhile experimental purchase. Were it my money, I would go for Old Weller Antique for a wheated bourbon under $25. Since it’s your money, don’t be afraid to give Rebel Reserve a try, especially if you enjoy other young wheated bourbons. My grade: C-. Price: $20-25/750ml. At the price point, Rebel Reserve is a fine deal, and it won’t break the bank if you decide that you don’t care for it.
Most importantly, drink your bourbon responsibly, and let it ride!