DSR – KY – 013: 1969 Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Whiskey
Company/Distillery: Stitzel-Weller Distillery
Location: Louisville, Kentucky
Mash Bill: Believed to be 70% Corn, 20% Wheat, and 10% Malted Barley
Age Statement: 6 Years Old
Proof/ABV: 90 Proof/45% ABV
Color & Viscosity: Sitting and admiring this 1969 Rebel Yell in the glass, it presents a deep and rich mahogany color. Tilting the glass to the side, the whiskey leaves a medium bodied viscous line as quick legs develop and glide just as swiftly down the glass. Left behind are droplets that gradually teardrop down the sides to the bottom of the tasting vessel.
Bottle Label Information:
“U.S. Internal Revenue”
“U.S. Internal Revenue”
“Bottle Stamp Series 112”
“Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”
“6 Years Old”
“Distilled, Aged and Bottled by Stitzel-Weller Distillery, Louisville, Kentucky”
“Original Design from the Rebel Yell Southern Collection 1969”
The Stitzel-Weller Distillery was founded in 1933 as a result of a merger between well known distributor, W.L. Weller & Sons, and A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery. This merge was facilitated by partners Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., Alex T. Farnsley, and Arthur Phillip Stitzel. The distillery would officially begin operations on Derby Day, May 4, 1935 – the same day champion racehorse Omaha would win the 1st leg of his American Triple Crown. The distillery would operate in a state-of-the-art facility, which under the watchful eye of master distiller Will McGill (1935-1952), would house over 200 employees, produce approximately 800,000 cases a year, and store about 300,000 aging barrels on-site. McGill would be followed by master distillers Andry J. Corcoran (1952-58), Roy Hawes (1958-71), and Woodrow Wilson. When the downturn in the whiskey market occurred in the late 60’s to early 70’s, Stitzel-Weller Distillery would be sold from the Van Winkle family to Norton-Simon.
Stitzel-Weller would become widely known for its unique wheat mash bills, a move that was quite different than the typical rye mash bills used by fellow distillers. Popular brands made by the distillery included W.L. Weller, Pappy Van Winkle, Old Weller, Rebel Yell, Cabin Still, and Old Fitzgerald.
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey was started in the 1940’s by Stitzel-Weller founding member Alex Farnsley’s nephew, Charlie Farnsley. Charlie Farnsley was a politician in Kentucky who would serve as the Mayor of Louisville. Rebel Yell was designed to mainly be a gift to friends and politicians of Mayor Farnsley. Stitzel-Weller Distillery would eventually take over the brand from Farnsley and begin to distribute Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey in the south. Rebel Yell, now known only as Rebel, is distilled and distributed by Luxo.
How Did Rickhouse Ramblings Get This Bottle?
Early on in his whiskey journey (June 18, 2017 to be specific), when he still yearned for the excitement of the bottle hunt and the taste of taters, Mike would ask a hotel concierge in West Virginia to recommend the best liquor store near the hotel for him to do some bourbon hunting. As fate would have it, the concierge had come across a couple of filled and sealed decanters from an estate auction and decided to pick them up. After some pressing from Mike, and few rounds of uncomfortable negotiations, the concierge would agree to show Mike his collection. Armed with his father by his side, Mike would venture off to the concierge’s apartment and agree to purchase the decanter for his budding collection. If you’re interested in the details of how much was paid for these decanters, keep waiting because Mike remains tight lipped about the pricing at the moment. However, we are glad he made that purchase and was willing to donate them for a review for Rickhouse Ramblings!
Tasting Date/Vessel: March 12, 2022 – Neat in a Glencairn glass
Christian: The nose on this 1969 Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is significantly different than the previous two iterations we have tasted from Stitzel-Weller. This nose is sweet and much more grain forward in its aromas. A burst of sweet corn erupts from my Glencairn glass before giving way to vanilla, warm butter, and confectionery sugar. The combination of corn and sweet baking flavors really brings to mind a breakfast cereal similar to Corn Flakes. There is a considerably higher punch of ethanol in this pour compared to the Old Fitzgerald and Old Cabin Still. One final pass brings forward an aroma much like that of dark Karo syrup and a touch of yeast.
Mike: As with the other Stitzel-Weller “dusty” bourbons we’ve been fortunate enough to review, this Rebel Yell just explodes out of the glass with floral aromatics. This particular offering has a mixed berries aroma that is perfectly intermingled with the robust floral fragrances. As I dive into the glass, the sweetness of corn whiskey is present and then develops into intense dark brown sugar tones. A gentle swirl releases decadent aromas of pats of sweet cream butter melting on top of a fresh bowl of brown sugar sweetened oatmeal. As the whiskey settles, although I’m not a fan of this candy itself, I’m reminded of traditional candy corn candies.
Christian: This 1969 Rebel Yell offers a nice viscosity that coasts the tongue and top of mouth generously. Instantly I notice that this whiskey is rich with traditional bourbon flavors that are bold and full-bodied. The first flavor I notice is a strong essence of cigar wrappers. The flavor is not that of a cigar being smoked, but that desirable smell you experience when walking into a humidor in a cigar shop. This is accompanied by a symphony of leather and toasted brown sugar. This whiskey has withstood the test of time fantastically and truly comes across as a freshly opened bottled.
Mike: The first sip of this Rebel Yell bourbon is impressive! Butter slathered sweet grilled corn pops on the palate up front and is then followed by waves of leather and tobacco crashing mid-palate. Flavors are robust as hints of cigar tobacco intensify and consume the mouth. A quick bite of cinnamon heat lingers in the back of the throat, just warm enough to be soothing. Again, as with the other Stizel-Weller offerings we’ve reviewed recently, this isn’t overly complex but when I read about the lore of the Stitzel-Weller signature profile, I feel like this is what everyone raves about.
Christian: This 1969 Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a medium finish that packs a punch that seems higher than the stated 90 proof on the bottle. A nice crescendo of warmth builds in your throat and descends deep into the chest. The finish opens flavors of leather and toasted brown sugar before quickly transitioning to sweet butterscotch, a hint of fresh granny smith apples, and a bountiful amount of oak barrel char. Just a touch of spiciness here – it’s not black pepper but maybe leans more like chili powder.
Mike: This bourbon offers a more than respectable finish. It drinks a touch hotter than 90 proof in a very good way. There’s just a tickle of warmth in the lower throat with a vintage leather essence lingering on the palate, like an old leather bound book.
Christian: There is no question here, this 1969 Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is best in class of the three Stitzel-Weller dusty bottles we have tried. The Rebel Yell offered a robust and full-flavored drinking experience that was really a joy to try. The nice zip of traditional leather and brown sugar accompanied by the fresh unsmoked cigar wrapper are exactly what I envision when thinking of a bourbon from a time long past. This was a great finale to a fun experiment in tasting three decanters from the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.
Rating: 3.75 Rickhouses
Mike: Man, I’m infatuated with this bourbon! It is balanced, yet full-bodied with conventional flavor. All three of these dusty bourbons produced by Stitzel-Weller are presumed to be from the same mash bill and each one is unique. This 1969 Rebel Yell is one of the most well rounded bourbons I’ve had the pleasure to sip on and all I can think of while typing out this review is from the book Pappyland by Wright Thompson. In the opening paragraph of chapter 8, the fourth sentence asserts, “Julian likes to talk about whether or not the whiskey put into the barrel to age ‘makes the trip’.” In my very modest opinion, this one has made the trip! That’s the enchantment of “dusties”–they are from an era forgone, like a drinkable history, that consumes you with envy. Envy of a time that was just a little simpler and when things were made just a little bit better. But then again, what do I know? I wasn’t even a twinkle in mother’s eye when this was distilled or bottled. It is somewhat laughable that I want to reminisce about something that I wouldn’t have even been a part of, let alone able to experience; nevertheless, it’s exciting to make this trip!
Rating: 4.50 Rickhouses