The Buyer
Why Neil Hennessy-Vass thinks bourbon is having a moment

Why Neil Hennessy-Vass thinks bourbon is having a moment

For number one whiskey and bourbon fanboy extraordinaire, Neil Hennessy-Vass, the chance to try new spirit, Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend, alongside the man himself was an opportunity too good to miss. Mayville is a Goliath of blending, sitting as he does at the helm of Sazerac the company that owns The Last Drop Distillers, that is managing this exclusive release and whose 28th rare liquid this is. With only 1500 bottles produced you’ll have to be quick to grab a bottle, and you’ll have to have a cool £3,100 in your wallet…

Neil Hennessy-Vass
11th September 2022by Neil Hennessy-Vass
posted in Tasting: Spirits,

“Drinking I found myself in a citrus sweetshop and then onto the leather department with a tad of 18th century traders spices thrown in for good measure,” writes Neil about the Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend.

Bourbon is indeed having a moment, albeit a slow burner. The rise and rise of bourbon has taken it to an increase of over 450% in the last 23 years. Yes, you read that right, the sort of sales increase that most marketeers would sell their grandmother for.

The reason? Well bourbon is an easy drink; its profile has been in ascendance for some time… Think Madmen …”Give me something brown in the glass” one of Roger Stirling’s more pithy lines I’ve always thought. “But hang on” I hear you say, “Neil you’re a number one bourbon fanboy extraordinaire” … this is true, but I have been thinking that bourbon has been that stalking horse for some time now.

While rum was on everybody’s lips preceded by ‘flavoured vodka has had its day’ I have watched the serious money follow bourbon. Think Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve which will set you back a cool £3999 a bottle, if indeed you can find any for sale, such is its rarity. Collectors snap this tipple up with a gusto not seen since the Californian gold rush of 1848. Incidentally bourbon is quite a bit older than that flash-in-the-pan with records recording charred barrels in Kentucky improved the taste of whiskey in the 1780s.

Legendary bourbon distiller Drew Mayville with Rebecca Jago, Last Drop Distillers

Some people call me lucky, I say you make your own luck in this world, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised when I found myself at an intimate dinner at the 22 Club in London recently. Flanked by Rebecca Jago, the MD of Last Drop Distillers and the legendary Drew Mayville, master blender and director of quality at Sazerac, makers of Pappys, Blanton’s, Eagle Rare and of course the perennial favourite nectar of a locomotive that is Buffalo Trace.

The dinner was a celebration of yet another piece of Drew’s handy work, Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend which is a limited release through The Last Drop Distillers – a blend of Kentucky Straight Whiskeys comprising a blend of vintage straight bourbon and rye whiskeys. With less than 1500 bottles being produced it’s rather special indeed. The Signature Blend comes in at a sharpening 61.5% alc. / vol. Each bottle is individually numbered, offering the owner a unique piece of this scarce premium tipple.

Looking into a glass of Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend I see rich amber with a golden woody heritage. As it’s high in proof you get long legs, affirmation that this is something special. Nose-wise the figs are what hit first, and other dark fruits, there’s something of a mystery about it, raisins and a citrus kick are vying for attention, but don’t overpower. Drinking I found myself in a citrus sweetshop and then onto the leather department with a tad of 18th century traders spices thrown in for good measure.

It’s like watching your favourite band perform, you want to see them, they do a few warmup numbers that you like, but then they play your beloved ditty, the one that reminds you of … Yes, that is the finish to this extraordinary drink. Spice of Rye sounds like a good name for a band to me, maybe they too will have their moment just like bourbon.

Drew Mayville’s Signature Blend retails for £3,100 (VAT incl.) for one 700ml bottle and 50ml taster and is available from The Last Drop Distillers.