Whiskey Review: Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Saint Cloud Bourbon. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The bourbon world is increasingly breaking tradition, particularly in following the Scottish path of experimenting with different barrel aging and finishes. Ray Walker, of Holt, California has been tinkering with winemaking for years. Walker moved to the Burgundy region of France, and founded Mason Ilan, a Micro-negociant. Walker embellishes being the first American to make a Gran cru wine, doing so with no formal experience.

The Mason Ilan experiment has concluded, and Walker has returned to the States to found Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon, an American whiskey brand producing “micro-scale” limited batches. Batch One is in the books, distilled in 2016, and released into a limited 3000 bottles in March 2019. Saint Cloud seeks to showcase traditional distilling techniques; using a pot column hybrid still, using an undisclosed proprietary mash bill, and aged exclusively in French limousin white oak barrels, a homage to both Ray’s Kentucky roots, and winemaking background.

Saint Cloud is essentially a redemption story for Ray, as his Mason Ilan filed for bankruptcy and shut down in 2015. Walker cites his roots for invoking him to create Saint Cloud, noting his family’s contributions in the Civil War in Kentucky, as well as the War of 1812.

All things considered, Walker is a self-promotion master, and Saint Cloud is a well-oiled marketing machine. Albeit the young age statement, a barrel-strength bourbon aged in French oak sounds like an intriguing sip.

Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon

Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon (image via Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon)

Tasting Notes: Saint Cloud Kentucky Bourbon

Vital Stats: 3 years old, 120 proof, non-chill filtered. Undisclosed mash bill of corn, rye, malted barley. $93 MSRP for a 750ml bottle

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Appearance: Tawny

Nose: A distinct wave of citrus, bergamot, and candied fruits emanate from the glass.

Palate: Oily arrival with a burst of orange zest, pannetone, and peppery spice. Spice and citrus notes linger into a fairly long finish.

The Takeaway


Batch One has officially sold out, so your chances of seeing this in the wild are slim (there are still some bottles floating around retail, that being said). The French oak imparts some nice signature spice, and comes together with the mash to make a uniquely zesty pour.

It almost reminds me of a less complex attempt at High West's A Mid Winter Night's Dram series, with the citrusy, holiday desert notes. If experimentation is up your alley, seek a pour if you can find one, and stay tuned for future releases.

User Rating 3.21 (24 votes)


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