Now, when you think of England, there are a few pictures that instantly spring to mind. Images such as fish and chips, grey skies, unreserved politeness, and endless cups of tea are the obvious, along with quirky English pubs, amazing countryside, and stunning architecture.
When it comes to English alcoholic beverages, gin and real ale (not together, thankfully) are most certainly up there amongst the best, as well as cider from the southwest. One beverage we don’t think of however, is bourbon whiskey. Well, that might soon change.
Britain is of course no stranger to whiskey, and while it is Scotland that is responsible for the angel’s share of whisky produced, England still knows a thing or two about whiskey distilling. Bourbon, however, is notoriously associated with the USA, namely Kentucky and Tennessee. So then, imagine our surprise when we heard about Never Say Die Barrel Strength Bourbon – England’s first bourbon!
This bourbon is fast becoming one of the most popular on the drinks market today, and with an amazing history behind the brand, along with an exceptional flavour, we can understand why.
The Story of ‘Never Say Die’
Never Say Die is a transatlantic bourbon named after a history-making racehorse.
The story goes that, back in 1951 on a Kentucky farm, a foal was born experiencing breathing difficulties. The horse looked certain to die as the poor thing could barely breathe. Thankfully, legendary horse expert John A. Bell III was on hand to help. He gave the foal a shot of fiery bourbon to help its breathing. Now all they could do was wait.
Overnight, the horse made a miraculous recovery and was named ‘Never Say Die’.
The story doesn’t end there, however. The racehorse began racing in England years later, and was entered into the 175th Epsom Derby – one of the biggest races on the planet. The horse was a huge outsider at 33-1 yet it defied all odds and defeated 22 other horses to become the first US-born racehorse to win the race in more than 70 years.
This brand was named in honour of that very horse.
Never Say Die Barrel Strength Bourbon Profile
Made in Kentucky, this barrel strength variation of their standard bourbon, which in itself is exceptional, is made from a combination of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley.
Made in Kentucky from mineral-rich limestone filtered water and matured in charred, well-seasoned oak barrels for years, the bourbon then makes its way across the pond where it is left to mature once more in England.
Matured in a single cask, this yield provided just 240 bottles.
At 54.6% ABV, this is a surprisingly smooth whiskey with a stunning caramelised toffee amber hue to it.
On the nose it is as lively as it is vibrant, with spices such as white pepper, clove and nutmeg instantly recognisable. These soon give way to vanilla, smooth oak, rich leather, and salted caramel.
On the palate, candied orange peel can be detected, lemon, vanilla, lightly toasted oak, and rich toffee.
The finish is smooth with a rich and full body with the spices still lingering, along with the vanilla. There is very little smoke and plenty of body, with just a whisper of rye heat that gets you right at the back of the throat to give you a wee glow.