Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rebel Yell Bourbon Whiskey Review:


I'm a fan of inexpensive bourbon (hell, I'm a fan of inexpensive booze – who isn't?), and I constantly try to review well priced and easily accessible products on the Bourbon Intelligencer to show that one does not need to spend big bucks to be a true and well educated spirit consumer. Bourbon, specifically, is one of the best market priced spirits out there at the moment (though times are changing), and everyone should know that there are real legitimate options without breaking the bank. However, there are some products that, due to their price point, can be so tempting we are lured into buying something that we end up regretting – spending that measly $10-12 on something we could have used for a few good cups of coffee. Or better yet, you could have saved it for a more expensive, but time tested bourbon you love, right? I know how it is. You're running through Trader Joe's, trying to get in and get out, and then all of a sudden you come to the spirit rack. You already know you are spending way more on these pre-diced, pre-packed vegetables then you really should, and so you don't dare look at eye level, where all the “better-ish” stuff will be (after all – it is Trader Joe's). But look... that Rebel Yell is sooo cheap! And so it goes into the cart, back home onto the bar, and into the glass, where you realize you have made a huge mistake.

A wheated bourbon, Rebel Yell is a former Stitzel-Weller brand, now distilled by Heaven Hill's Bernheim Distillery and bottled by Luxco. And though Rebel Yell wishes to associate itself with those of the Buffalo Trace lineup, a Weller it is not. No age statement means that immediately we know it is bottled from at least four years.

Rebel Yell Bourbon Whiskey Review:

Price: From $10-$13 for a 750ml bottle.

Packaging/Labeling: Mass produced. Vague legends of whatever.

Alcoholic Content: 40% abv, 80 proof.

Nose: Phenolic and solvent-y. Corn feed and corn oils. Babe Ruth candy bar and lemons. Slight pepper.

Palate: Sweet sugar. Sour corn meal. Some faint dried fruit and woodiness. The four years is an exact four years – not one second more. This whiskey tastes very young – and watered down. 

Conclusion: As confirmed by some other reviewers, there is a young new-make scotch character to this, but ultimately what you are left with is almost a tasteless wheat spirit. Rebel Yell, the famed bourbon known more for it's cameo in Billy Idol's song and album of the same name, ranked 79th best hard rock song by VH1, is nothing like what you would expect when hearing about the Rebel Yell drinking party with the Rolling Stones where Billy supposedly came up with the album name. In this instance, the “little dancer” won't cry “more, more, more.” Your money can be spent better on other things.

Rating: Fair/Drinkable

12 comments:

  1. Nice review as always. I'm currently on a mission to find inexpensive single malts and blends.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment! Sorry for the late reply!

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  2. Unfortunately, Rebel Yell has fallen a long way from its earlier days, as has its sister Old Fitzgerald. Both are distilled at the same distillery, Bernheim in Louisville, and both of their ancestors were also distilled there, when United Distillers operated it. Both were ALSO distilled at the same distillery when that distillery was Stitzel Weller in Shively, but both were also WAY better bourbons back then.

    The concept is still the same, though. Rebel Yell is a dumbed-down version of Old Fitz, packaged to serve a limited, if fanatical, market of drinkers who also make up a large percentage of Jack Daniel's most vocal afficianados. That was the original idea; all during its Stitzel Weller days, Rebel Yell was proudly offered for sale ONLY in the deep south. That fact alone was its chief qualification for why one would want to buy it.

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  3. I actually like Rebel Yell....I don't know - It reminds me of scotch. I like the Rebel Reserve as well. Looking forward to trying some of the higher quality wheated whiskys.

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    1. And don't let anyone tell you differently. If you like it - drink it! As always, I will use "baseline bourbons" to do comparisons, as well as looking at price points. W.L. Weller as a great example. But drinking what you like is the most important thing! Cheers!

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  4. I bought a bottle along with Islay Storm to put in my aging barrel with vermouth for aged manhattans. I'm thinking it will all turn out ok after 28 days in the barrel...

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    1. Sorry for the late reply - but tell me if it turned out!

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  5. I recently found two bottles of Rebel Yell that I had packed away when my grandfather passed away twenty some years ago. They seem to be from the 1970s. They are 90 proof and are labeled as 6 years old, and say "Exclusively for THE DEEP SOUTH". I assume they are from the pre-Luxco days. Do you know where I could find out more information on them?

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    1. What a find! The best person I could direct you to would be Chuck Cowdery @ cowdery@ix.netcom.com. He's a busy guy but if anyone could lead you in the right direction it would be him. Good luck!

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  6. 1/2 cup rebel yell
    1 1/2 cups water heated to 165 F
    1/2 to 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    my favorite winter drink,
    good with Ezra Brooks or
    Evan Williams black label too.
    I agree that expensive spirits
    just are not worth it as there are
    always good inexpensive options.
    Compare side by side, I would take
    Rebel Yell over gross Blantons.

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  7. Rebel Yell is better than your review would indicate. I think you should give it another taste.

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    1. Well, that is your opinion to think so, yet I find every time I go back to it, I find it to be what my initial review was. Not to mention my thoughts are confirmed by other whiskey drinkers whom I respect very much. If you would care to explain to me why, for example you think my review is off, or how rebel yell is even comparable to say a lower priced bourbon such as Evan Williams Black Label, I am all ears. Cheers!

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