Hokus Pokus will sometimes let me try something before I buy it, and I have passed on previous releases of Penelope Toasted Series Barrel Strength Bourbon after tasting samples of them, albiet in a disposable cough syrup plastic cup. But when I tried Louisiana Select Number 5 I decided to pick up a bottle. It tasted better than the others and wanted to give it a try in a copita and really taste it. This bourbon is aged four to five years in number 3 char heavily toasted barrels, is non-chill filtered, and bottled at 115 proof. This is MGP Bourbon from Indiana. This bottle cost $58.
So, what do they mean by heavily toasted barrels? It means that the barrels were exposed to a lot of indirect heat such that the oak would go through different chemical reactions which yield up the flavors internal to the wood. While charring yields sweet, vanilla, and dark fruit type flavors, toasting yields nutty, lighter fruits like green apple and pear, and caramel flavors. Admittedly, the barrels used for this bourbon were not only toasted but then charred to number 3 char, so while not alligator char number 4, my personal favorite, it is nothing to sneeze at either.
Color on this is a light but too light amber; I wouldn’t confuse it with most scotches. Nice film with super thick legs on the swirl. Fairly traditional bourbon nose with an emphasis on caramel, fresh green oak, and rye grain. On the palate, the caramel from the nose is then met with a ton of baking spice, some clove, a hint of vanilla, some green apple, and a hint of rye grassy notes deep in the background. On the finish, the baking spice fades leaving black pepper and grassy notes, with the finish being about medium. But, much to its credit, whatever craft bitterness it may have has disguised itself in the form of spice and grassy notes. I would say this is a vast improvement over prior Penelope bourbon releases.