Maker: Charles W. Medley, Owensboro, Kentucky, USA
Proof: 102 (51% ABV)
Price: $24 (The Party Source)
Appearance: Pale copper.
Nose: Corn chips, tarragon, leather.
Palate: Soft mouthfeel. A delicate slight corny or maybe malty sweetness. It slowly grows hotter and hotter until it fills the mouth with cayenne pepper.
Finish: Like Mae West: hot and corny with maybe a touch of sweet malt.
Mixed: Very good in cocktails. Excellent in a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Boulevardier, with Benedictines and even in a hot toddy.
Parting words: Medley Bros. is the cheapest, highest proof and newest product in the Medley line of bourbons. The brands are owned by Charles W. Medley (son of Wathen, 2nd from right on the label) and his son Sam. All their bourbons are custom distilled by an undisclosed Kentucky distiller and bottled by Frank-Linn of Fairfield, California. According to Chuck Cowdery, they are all made from the family mashbill, which has a high malt content relative to other bourbons.
It tastes like it. It has a mild sweetness that resembles what I imagine a high malt bourbon would taste like. The only bourbon I’ve had with a similar sweetness is 1792, which is also (maybe) a high malt bourbon.
It fares well against the competition, too. I tasted it next side by side with Wild Turkey 101, Old Forester Signature, Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond (white label) and Very Old Barton Bottled-in-Bond. It didn’t blow any of them away, but it held its own. For cocktails, the Bros. are hard to beat. I wish I could have tasted it alongside Charter 101 and Old Grand Dad to get a more complete picture, but I forgot to get a bottle of either of those.
The label is crisp with just enough kitsch to be fun with portraits of the five brothers and the “heart of the run” neck thingy. The price is in line with the competition. My only complaint is the nose. As it sits in the glass, the corn chip aroma becomes stronger and stronger to the point of unpleasantness. In spite of that, Medley Bros. is recommended and highly recommended for cocktails. It is currently limited in distribution so pick up a bottle or two next time you’re in Kentucky.
2 thoughts on “Medley Bros.”
Josh, I’m glad it held its own when tasted against bourbons that are $5 to $10 cheaper. (I don’t understand your comment that the price is in line with the competition.) Price alone is not the determining factor in what I buy but value certainly is an important consideration. There are quite a few excellent values in the $20–$30 range. I wonder how MB would stack up against them.
I can see why that would be confusing. For the comparisons, I selected bourbons that were also A) Middle shelf at around 100 proof and B) In my cabinet. I thought that would be better than strictly going on price because that seems to be the segment Medley Bros. is intended to compete in. Here’s a breakdown of Michigan state minimums or TPS prices for 100ish proof bourbons that I consider to be competitors (couldn’t find a price for the white label HH online):
Jim Beam Bonded (coming in January) $25
Old Weller Antique $25
Medley Bros. $24*
Old Forester Signature $23
Wild Turkey 101 $22
Fighting Cock $19
Old Grand Dad BiB $19
Charter 101 $18*
Old Ezra $16
Evan Williams White Label $15
Old Fitzgerald BiB $15*
Very Old Barton BiB $13*
J.T.S. Brown BiB $10**
**Estimated based on TPS price for a handle
I didn’t include the Col. Taylors, Rock Hill Farms, Knob Creek, Baker’s, Four Roses Single Barrel or McKenna SB because they’re all upper shelf and priced accordingly. Whether they all deserve to be there is an open question but that’s where they are. I’m also tempted to throw out VOB and Old Ezra because they are freakishly good values and nothing will ever be able to touch their QPRs. Also, OWA is 107 proof so that adds even more value.
Anyway, yes, Medley Bros. is near the top of that list, but not by a lot. That’s what I meant when I said the price was “in line” with the competition. The Bros. are only $2 more than WT and $1 more than OF Signature. Its unique mashbill and higher proof makes it worth a few extra bucks more, I think.
Thanks for stopping by!