Recently, we reviewed Kentucky Deluxe, but we needed a little hiatus before hopping back on the wagon of bottom shelf whiskey. Today, we’re back with a whiskey that many of us likely enjoyed in high school or college, especially those hailing from southern states. In this Rebel Bourbon review, we’ll discuss the history, price, tasting notes, and more.
Rebel Bourbon History
Now, if you haven’t heard of Rebel Bourbon, you may now it as it’s previous name – Rebel Yell. The original recipe for Rebel Yell Bourbon was introduced in 1849 at the Stitzel-Weller distillery, known for using wheat in replacement of rye in the mashbill. The Rebel Yell brand wasn’t introduced until 1950, however, by Charles Farnsley, the mayor of Louisville at the time.
The brand was meant to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the original Weller company. Rebel Yell was to be produced in small batches and sent out to southern states. After the Stitzel-Weller company broke up in 1972, Rebel Yell was purchased by David Sherman Corporation, now known as Luxco. While Rebel Yell Bourbon was sourced at Heaven Hill Distillery for the last couple decades, Luxco opened their own distillery in 2018. It seems, though, that Rebel Bourbon still sources its whiskey from Heaven Hill as the bottle dons the statement “bottled for Lux Row Distillers”. We’ll see if this changes soon now that Lux row Distillers hits the four year mark.
In 2019 Rebel Yell began rebranding. It started with a new bottle design and a new marketing campaign. However, in 2020 the rebranding effort went to removing ‘Yell’ from the bottle. Rebel Yell was a term coined for the battle cry of the confederate army. While this change has certainly upset some people, it’s an understandable switch. The important thing is that the whiskey inside the bottle has stayed the same.
Rebel Bourbon Overview
- Whiskey: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Owned By: Luxco
- Distilled By: Heaven Hill Distillery / Lux Row Distillers
- ABV: 40%, 80 Proof
- Age: NAS (minimum 4 years)
- Mashbill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley
The most notable thing about Rebel Bourbon is their use of wheat. There are 4 primary grains used in the production of whiskey – barley, corn, rye, and wheat. All bourbon will have at least 51% corn. From there, most bourbons will contain malted barley, and rye. Wheat often takes a back seat, especially now with the resurgence of rye whiskey and high rye bourbon, such as Breckenridge Bourbon.
While Rebel Bourbon doesn’t display an age statement on its bottle, we know it’s aged a minimum of 4 years. Any “straight” bourbon must be aged a minimum of two years, and if it doesn’t display an age statement, it must be aged at least 4 years. This is just the case for bourbon. Irish Whiskey and Scotch must be aged a minimum of 3 years and aren’t required to have an age statement.
Rebel Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to get into the real reason you are here. Is Rebel Bourbon good whiskey? What does it taste like? Let’s pour ourselves a glass and find out.
Nose: Ethanol, brown sugar, and honey
Taste: Caramel and sweet honey are most present with some raisin and cinnamon.
Finish: Sweet honey and light pepper and spice. Sharp.
Okay, so this isn’t a great sip, but not awful either. Nothing about this bourbon, from a taste perspective, makes me want to willingly choose to buy a bottle. The mouthfeel is quite thin, the profile is standard, and the alcohol flavor is more prominent than you’d want.
However, the addition of ice makes things a little better. It mutes most of the flavors, but it also dilutes the strong alcohol aroma and taste. Drinking Rebel Bourbon neat isn’t a pleasant experience, but on ice it’s definitely not unpleasant.
Rebel Bourbon Price
There’s a couple things to expect from a bottom shelf whiskey. The flavors are going to be standard, the mouthfeel will be thin, and a cheap alcohol taste will come with it. The last thing, and maybe most important, is a low price tag. Let’s take a look at how much a bottle of Rebel Bourbon will cost you. As a note, we compare prices from various Total Wine locations across the US.
- 750ml: $13-17
- 1.75L: $23-27
The standard price of Rebel Yell used to be right around the $12 mark. While you can still find a bottle of Rebel around that price at major retail stores, you’re more likely to pay about $18 for a 750ml at your local liquor store. After the rebranding, Luxco has attempted to move Rebel up from the bottom of the bottom shelf. With that effort, the price has went up a bit, too.
Rebel Bourbon Value
I like Rebel Bourbon a lot better at the $13 price point than $18. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to buy a bottle at either price point, it makes much more sense at $13. When you get towards that higher end, you start competing with whiskeys such as Jack Daniel’s or Maker’s Mark, which Rebel does not compare to.
Rebel Bourbon is a decent intro into wheated bourbon, however. As I mentioned, this was a whiskey many of us grew up drinking in high school and college, likely before we were supposed to be drinking. The reason is because it is cheap and good enough. And let’s be honest, that’s all you can really ask for when buying a $15 bottle of bourbon.
Rebel Bourbon Summary
Rebel Yell went through a rebranding effort which brought about a couple changes. The whiskey inside the bottle stayed the same, but the bottle itself and its name were reimagined. It no longer contains “The Deep South” written on the bottle, and they dropped “Yell” from the brand. Rebel Yell was a term that represented the confederate army, so they changed things up to market to a larger consumer base.
With these changes also brought about a hike in the price. While it’s still available for under $15, you may have more trouble finding it at the price. The phrase “you get what you pay for” applies quite well to Rebel Bourbon. It’s a cheap bottle of whiskey and it tastes like one, too. This isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s cheap and low quality but wholly drinkable. It works just fine in a mixed drink and actually is palatable on the rocks.
In comparison to Kentucky Deluxe, it’s definitely better but 2-3x the price. If you’re looking for the cheapest whiskey to mix with a whiskey coke, Kentucky Deluxe is the way to go. However, Rebel has more functionality as it’s much better in other mixed drinks and by itself. I will say, though, that I’m excited to get back to reviewing some higher quality options.
Below are frequently asked questions regarding Rebel Yell and Rebel Bourbon. Many of these are answered in the article above.
Is Rebel Bourbon the Same as Rebel Yell?
Yes. In 2019 Rebel Yell went through a rebranding effort. They changed up the bottle in 2019, and in 2020 they transitioned to Rebel Bourbon.
Where is Rebel Whiskey made?
Rebel Whiskey is owned by Luxco, but the whiskey is distilled at Heaven Hill Distillery. Luxco opened their distillery, Lux Row Distillers, in 2018, so they may begin distilling their own whiskey for Rebel Bourbon.
Do They Still Make Rebel Yell Bourbon?
Yes, but the brand is now just Rebel Bourbon, the whiskey inside the bottle is still the same.
Why Did Rebel Yell Bourbon Change its Name?
Rebel Yell was a term used to describe the battle cry of the confederate army. Part of Rebel Yell’s rebranding effort was to market itself to more than just the south, where the whiskey was originally exclusively sold.