Whiskey Review: Rebel Yell Bourbon

Editor’s Note: The Whiskey Wash welcomes Savannah Weinstock to our writing staff! Also, we like to let you know this whiskey was provided to us as a free sample to review by the party behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, did keep full independent editorial control over this article.

Rebel Yell bourbon has been around since 1849, and has classically been considered a bottom shelf whiskey dweller. Distilled at Heaven Hill’s Louisville, Kentucky distillery, the whiskey is technically owned by spirits behemoth Luxco. Luxco typically puts out potent layman’s spirits such as Everclear, Ezra Brooks whiskey and a colorful variety of liquors ranging from blue raspberry vodka to several iterations of readymade Long Island ice tea, though more recently they unveiled a high end bourbon known as Blood Oath as well.

As such, they are in the process of rebranding some of their spirits, and Rebel Yell appears to be on the top of their list. Rebel Yell has been made over from a a stout, squat bottle with a kitchily Western label to one that clearly resembles a new American craft whiskey, replete with cork stopper, sloping shoulder and polished label. However, this rebrand has left the actual spirit untouched, with Rebel Yell sticking to its original bourbon recipe.

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

Rebel Yell clocks in at 40% ABV (80 proof), with a mash bill of wheat and corn. The color of the whiskey is a light caramel, shining through with butterscotch candy. On the nose, it displays heavy ethanol and warm brown butter, which moves onto a more cloying honey scent after opening up. Rebel Yell’s official notes for the nose cite “honey, butter, and raisins,” and while the honey and butter come through, the raisin note exists only on the palate.

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In fact, the raisin is more than made up for on the palate, where it is entirely overwhelming. The expected touch of spiciness is immediately apparent on the palate, followed by overwhelming raisin overtones, burnt caramel and slight ash.

The finish, meanwhile, was eerily reminiscent of white dog, peppery, and again syrupy as it was on the nose.

Overall, Rebel Yell is an entirely expected Kentucky bourbon that lends itself better to throwing back than truly enjoying. Now at $17.95 for a 750 ml bottle, up from approximately $11-15 since Luxco’s rebranding, it is neither a steal nor highway robbery. Many of the tasting notes provided by the brand came up short, as the whiskey is clearly not for the kind of whiskey drinkers that value precise tasting notes, as hard as Rebel Yell may try.

All things considered, I would give Rebel Yell a 71 out of a 100.