Family is a very important aspect in many of our lives, including us here at Barrel and Brew. The same can be said for the owners of Penelope Bourbon. Two friends and their wives teamed up to produce a bourbon that they would name after one couples daughter that was yet to be born. In this review of Penelope Bourbon, we’re going to cover the history, production, taste, price, and more of this new craft bourbon.
After reviewing Kentucky Deluxe and Rebel Bourbon, I can definitely say that I’m excited to make my way up from the bottom shelf. Let’s take a deeper dive into whether or not Penelope Bourbon is worth buying.
Penelope Bourbon History
Mike Paladini and his wife, Kerry, were expecting a baby girl in 2018. Mike had decided he wanted to create a whiskey and name it after his impending daughter. By 2019, Paladini partnered with his friend, Danny Polise, and they set out to craft a whiskey for everyone to enjoy. The company was born along with Mike and Kerry’s daughter, both of which seem to have had a healthy beginning.
Penelope Bourbon Four Grain Overview
- Whiskey: Straight Bourbon
- Distilled By: MGP Indiana
- Bottled By: Penelope Bourbon Bottling Company
- Age: Minimum 3 years
- ABV: 40%, 80 Proof
- Mashbill: 75% corn, 15% wheat, 7% rye, 3% malted barley
Distillation & Bottling
Penelope Bourbon is very open about where they source their whiskey from – MGP, in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. MGP is one of the largest producers of whiskey in the world. They source their whiskey out to different brands and companies including many of our favorites. Sagamore Spirit, Bulleit, and Redemption are just three brands we’ve written about that source their whiskey from MGP. While I’m very partial to MGP’s rye mashbills, I’m excited to try some more of the bourbon they produce.
While Penelope Bourbon is technically bottled by their own company, they directly work with Bardstown Bourbon Company where their whiskey is bottled in Bardstown, KY.
Age & Mashbill
Penelope’s website states that their bourbon is aged 2-3 years, but it seems that information may be outdated. The back of my bottle purchased the other day states that the whiskey inside has been aged a minimum of 36 months in charred new American oak barrels. Other reviewers have stated there bottles donned a 24 month age statement. Perhaps Penelope Bourbon decided to let their whiskey sit an extra year.
Most bourbons use three grains in production of their whiskey – corn, malted barley, and either rye or wheat. While the use of rye has become more and more popular, so, too, has the use of all four grains. Penelope Bourbon blends three mashbills into a single batch that contains all four grains used in the production of whiskey. The mashbill comes out to be 75% corn, 15% wheat, 7% rye, and 4% malted barley.
Penelope Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics behind Penelope Bourbon, let’s get to the important stuff. Is it good whiskey? What does it taste like? Let’s pour ourselves a glass and find out!
Nose: Sweet corn, caramel, and light green apple aromas
Taste: A little thin and light. Caramel and oak are most notable. There are some light nutty characteristics that blend in with the sweetness.
Finish: Light and buttery. A touch of pepper and spice slides down your throat but is coated by butterscotch. Short to medium in length
Inoffensive. That’s the best word I can use to describe Penelope Bourbon. It’s a bourbon I have no problem drinking, but it also doesn’t stand out. I would like to see this expression have some stronger oak flavors and a thicker, richer profile. However, the one thing I like about Penelope is the buttery mouthfeel. It’s not super thick, but it’s enough to coat your mouth and throat.
Penelope Bourbon Price
Alright, so the next big question is, how much does Penelope Four Grain Bourbon cost? We take a look at various prices across the US from Total Wine stores to generate a typical price range.
A 750 ml bottle of Penelope Bourbon will cost around $33-41 depending upon your individual store and location. It’s a fair price point and, I think, where you can find the best value bottles.
Penelope Bourbon Value
Now that we’ve covered the taste and price, we can attempt to accurately ascertain the value of a bottle. Here at Barrel and Brew, we think Penelope Bourbon is a solid intro to bourbon. I wouldn’t recommend a bottle to a whiskey aficionado as they would likely find it boring and bland.
I wouldn’t want to scare off a beginner by handing them a cask strength, sherry cask finished bottle. Find something inoffensive and easy to drink – that’s Penelope Bourbon. If that sounds like you, you want something easy but also decent quality, pick up a bottle of Penelope.
Penelope Bourbon Selection
Now our review was for the standard Four Grain Bourbon offering; however, Penelope Bourbon offers multiple four grain selections and other specialties as well. While we haven’t had a chance to do a full tasting of all of their selections, we’d figure we would at least introduce them. If you’re someone who’s looking for a more complex whiskey, you may find it here.
Penelope Barrel Strength
This is the same four grain bourbon with some slight differences. First, it is aged anywhere from 3.5-5 years. Second, it is uncut, which means the whiskey in the bottle is what comes straight out of the barrel. It is bottled at 115.2 proof, or 57.6% ABV.
Penelope Bourbon Toasted Series offers a unique blend with each bottle. After spending 4-6 years in charred new American oak barrels, the whiskey is finished in a freshly toasted barrel. While the bourbon uses the same three bourbon mashbills in its blend, each blend is a little different along with each level of char. The Toasted Series is bottled at barrel strength and hand selected.
Again, we have the same four grain mashbill here as the standard and barrel strength options, but this time the bourbon is finished in two different types of French oak staves. The two types of staves are delicate and intense, one is meant to have a low tannin content while the other is said to have medium levels. Penelope Architect is aged for 4-5.5 years and bottled at 104 proof, or 52% ABV.
Penelope Bourbon Summary
Per their website, Owners Mike and Danny set out to “produce a straight bourbon whiskey that everyone could appreciate and enjoy”. Honestly, they did a pretty good job at that. Penelope Bourbon isn’t knocking anyone’s socks off, but it’s not unenjoyable at all. For a whiskey of this caliber, I’d certainly love to see it priced $5-10 lower, but it’s not an outrageous price as is.
For those that appreciate a more rich and complex whiskey, Penelope’s standard Four Grain Bourbon is probably something you want to pass on. However, they have multiple options for those looking for something more. The Barrel Strength, Toasted Series, and Architect are all bottled above 50% ABV for something a bit stronger. Personally, I’m interested in trying the Toasted Series or the Architect as they are barrel finished and likely offer some more depth.
Below are frequently asked questions regarding Penelope Bourbon. Many of these are answered in the article above.
Where is Penelope Bourbon Made?
Penelope Bourbon is sourced from MGP in Indiana, but it’s bottled in Bardstown, KY.
Who Makes Penelope Bourbon?
Penelope Bourbon is owned by Michael Paladini and Daniel Polise. MGP supplies them with the whiskey, and it is bottled by the Penelope Bourbon Bottling Company.
Is Penelope Bourbon Hard to Find?
No. Penelope Bourbon has been a growing brand since its conception, so more and more stores have begun offering it. You may not find a bottle at a small Mom & Pop’s liquor store, but most larger retail stores should offer it.
Is Penelope Bourbon Good?
Penelope’s standard Four Grain Bourbon is solid. Inoffensive and an intro bourbon are the best ways to describe it. Nothing special going on, but nothing that will turn you off either. For more complex pours, try their barrel strength and barrel finished options.