...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, June 26, 2015

WTF Is This? Faultline Straight Bourbon Whiskey

I'll start with the obvious then work my way back into the details.

"Faultline" is an exclusive brand created by K&L Wine and Spirits.  Rums, brandies, tequilas, and whiskies have been bottled and released under this label and sold only through K&L.  "Straight" means that the liquid within was matured for longer than two years in oak barrels; and since there's no age statement on the label, that means the liquid was actually matured for longer than four years.  "Bourbon Whiskey" means that the mashbill was at least 51% corn and the resulting spirit was aged in new American oak barrels.

But K&L doesn't distill its own spirit so it's time for more info...

Luckily, K&L is very open about the contents of this bottle.  As per David Driscoll's notes, this bourbon was blended by John Little of Smooth Ambler using some of Ambler's stock of MGP-distilled bourbon.  There's a mix of 10-year-old bourbon using MGP's lower rye mashbill and 7-year-old high-rye bourbon.  They bottled it at 50%abv and K&L has been selling it for $39.99 for almost two years.

So yes, like last week's WTF, Homestead, this is another MGP bourbon.  But while the contents of last week's bourbon are shrouded in (unnecessary?) mystery, the Faultline's makeup was better disclosed, thus I know WTF I'm drinking here.  Are they the same whiskey though?  I compared my sample of Faultline's straight bourbon with Homestead Bourbon reduced to 50%abv.

Brand: Faultline
Owner: K&L Wine and Spirits
RegionDistilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Age: blend of 10-year-old and 7-year-old bourbons
Alcohol by volume: 50%
(Sample from swap with Florin)

It has a maple syrup color with some rosy highlights.  The nose is very pretty.  Lots of caramel and hard candies.  Maraschino cherries, cloves, and strawberry popsicles.  A citrus-estery perfume.  Charred US oak and (maybe?) sandalwood.  It gets oakier with time, bringing up some furniture polish and maple syrup.  Lots of cherry lollipops in the palate.  Orange zest and oaky caramel.  Some bright spice notes like cinnamon, peppercorns, and cardamom.  A hint of ripe cantaloupe appears just before the spicy caramel takes over.  A long finish.  Woody, sugary, hints of MGP rye spice.  A citrus note grows with time.

The nose simplifies.  Caramel and oak pulp.  Oranges and rye.  The palate is oranges, cherries, caramel, and wood spice.  Those oranges carry over into the sugary and charred finish.


HOMESTEAD BOURBON reduced to 50%abv
The nose starts off with ethyl and paint fumes.  Dove soap, lemon cleaner, vanilla, and orange oil.  It picks up some maple candy with time in the glass.  The palate moves quickly from sweet to bitter to oaky then back to bitter.  Stale peanuts and rye new make.  The finish is made up of sugar, peanut dust, tree bark, soap, and ammonia.

WTF is Faultline Straight Bourbon Whiskey?  Good MGP bourbon is WTF it is.  Homestead at 50%abv is a turd compared to it.  The cask selection and knowledge about when/what to bottle was far superior with Faultline.  I really don't have anything nice to say about the Homestead, so I'll move on.

Faultline is a good tasty drinker at its bottling strength, so I don't recommend adding water.  There's plenty of spice for rye fans and a surprising amount of fruit in the mix too.  Sku liked it, as did Andy over at LAWS.  Even Monsieur MAO liked it, and I'll be damned if he didn't steal my rating.

Its price is competitive, $10-$20 cheaper than the Homestead, cheaper than Smooth Ambler's own 7- and 10-year old bourbons, and right between the prices of WT Rare Breed and Russell's Reserve 10yo.  I kinda wish I'd tried this two years ago when it first came it out.  K&L appears to be getting towards the end of its stash and may be partnering with St. George Spirits for a new batch of bourbon soon.

Availability - K&L Wines
Pricing - $39.99
Rating - 85


  1. I recently picked up K&L's Faultline Blended Scotch. For $24.99 a bottle, it's a great alternative to Chivas 12 or Red Label.

    1. I am intrigued. At the very least, I appreciate their choice to bottle it at 50%abv.