Whiskey Review: Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs. 

The blood oath: a most ancient of pacts practiced around the world in cultures centuries past. From East Asia, the Philippines, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, ancient Scythia, and perhaps most popularly known through the number of Norse-related tv shows on tv. Called the ganga unðir Jarðarmén or “to walk beneath the Earth’s gem,” the blood oath was both a sworn pact of honor and a legally binding oath. While not carrying quite the same gravitas, Lux Row Distiller’s Blood Oath series is nonetheless a cool idea, with cool marketing, that promises the particular small batch bourbon of each “pact” (there have been nine thus far) will never be made again. 

Lux Row is one of the official brands of the giant conglomerate MGP, which has grown massive thanks to the bourbon boom and whiskey shortage in the 2010s. MGP is a provider of whiskey to brands across the United States, which then blend or age it further. Loved by some, hated by others, it is undeniable that MGP makes the juice for some amazing products. Lux Row itself has a number of different products, including the widely available Rebel Bourbon and Ezra Brooks bourbon.

The Blood Oath series was an opportunity for master distiller and blender John Rempe to stretch his creative legs each year, offering an entirely unique creation. “Creating an extraordinary and unique blend of Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys is at the heart of the Blood Oath series. Each Pact represents an opportunity to create a secret I can’t wait to share with bourbon lovers,” says Rempe.

The Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the first sherry aged bourbon in the series, though there was a sauternes wine cask finish in Pact 7. Finishing, a process by which a whiskey is aged for a short period of time in a different barrel than its maturation barrel, is something seen more commonly in Scotch whisky, especially in sherry barrels like the GlenDronach and Dalmore whiskies. Blood Oath Pact 9 is also a blend of three ryed bourbons, including a 16-year, a 12-year, and a seven-year. 

Honestly, I’ve long taken issue with sherry finished bourbons. While Scotch tends to be subtle enough to emphasize the dried fruit and nutty notes, I find that bourbon’s caramel and spicy oak tends to either overwhelm the berry notes or cause the two to fight for control of the palate. While Blood Oath Pact 9 falls toward the former category, it successfully adds the sherry finish on top of the bourbon, much like a brandied cherry in an old fashioned cocktail.

The whiskey is remarkably smooth and captures what I think a finished bourbon should taste like: predominantly bourbon in flavor, but with a slight dark fruit sweetness just on the edge of discernable flavor. I can’t compare it to the previous entries, but Lux Row Distillers’ Blood Oath Pact #9 delivers on its promise in invoking the storied blood oaths of old by producing a smooth, rich, and classic whiskey. 

Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey review

We review Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a blend of three ryed bourbons, including a 16-year, a 12-year, and a seven-year, that’s finished in Oloroso sherry casks. (image via Jeffrey Nitschke/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Blood Oath Pact 9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: Blend of 7 to 16 yr bourbon. Finished in Oloroso Sherry casks. 98.6 proof (49.3 ABV). $129.99/750ml. 

Appearance: Amber with a tint of red. 

Nose: Predominant leather and marionberry smells overlay baking spices and stone fruits. 

Palate: Cream and caramel hit the plate but back off, quickly replaced by black tea and leather. Some light violet floral notes dance around while blackberry, cinnamon and black pepper fill the majority of the experience. The berry fruit lushly decorates the end of the palate, while the finish is black cherry marmalade and oak. 

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