England’s ‘first’ Bourbon unveiled

by Georgie Pursey

Derbyshire-based Never Say Die has released what is believed to be the first English Bourbon, which has been ocean-aged on a transatlantic voyage.

The Bourbon, which was distilled and matured in Kentucky, has been ocean-aged on a six-week trip across the Atlantic, before finishing its maturation at the White Peak Distillery in Derbyshire, England. The brand’s flagship whiskey has been created by world-class Bourbon distillers Pat Heist and Shane Baker, alongside a transatlantic team of founders.

Never Say Die’s master distiller, Pat Heist, said: “Our philosophy is to only produce the best and most interesting whiskey possible for drinkers around the world. As such, Never Say Die is made using only the finest ingredients.

"Our custom mash bill has been designed to highlight the essence of the small grains with consistency, using carefully selected local grains. It is a pioneering sweet mash which results in a smoother, more flavourful whiskey. We also use high quality, mineral rich limestone filtered water sourced from the deepest aquifer in Kentucky.

“We add our Bourbon whiskey to well seasoned, charred American oak barrels and tuck them away to mature to perfection for up to four years in Kentucky, before it embarks on the final leg of its journey across the ocean to finish."

The name, Never Say Die, was inspired by a famous racehorse of the same name, which following a traumatic birth was revived with a shot of whiskey. Three years later and at odds of 33-1, Never Say Die became the first American-born horse in 70-years to win the Epsom Derby in front of 250,000 spectators, which included Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill. Martha Dalton, co-founder of the Bourbon Alliance and Never Say Die, said: “We are delighted to introduce England’s Bourbon to UK whiskey fans. “Never Say Die is our interpretation of the American dream and a celebration of the namesake racehorse’s trailblazing journey across the Atlantic; by following in his ‘hoofsteps’ we are creating a Bourbon that is unique in both flavour and narrative.” Production of the whiskey began in 2017, and its launch was made possible when the 25% whiskey tariffs on US imports were reversed as a result of the campaigning efforts of the team and the Bourbon Alliance. The whiskey was distilled in the style of a traditional Kentucky Bourbon. The final maturation has offered the whiskey a ‘unique’ flavour profile, thanks to the colder, less humid UK temperatures and exposure to ocean air throughout its maritime voyage. “The process of bringing Kentucky straight Bourbon in original barrels across the ocean to further mature in England has never been done before and we are incredibly proud of what we have achieved, creating a world-class whiskey that is rooted in Kentucky provenance but with an undeniably English character,” Dalton continued. “Considered a ‘high rye’ Bourbon, our launch product blends subtle spice, caramel undertones and an amazingly smooth finish which can be enjoyed neat, on ice or in your favourite cocktail”. The unique bottle was designed by Stranger & Stranger and draws on the colours of the jersey Lester Piggott wore when he rode Never Say Die to victory in 1954. Never Say Die is available to order now for the on and off-trade via N10 Bourbons, and is available to buy from The Whiskey Exchange, Master of Malt, The Whisky World and Milroys from today (30 September). It is priced at RRP £79 (US$88.26) and bottled at a cask strength of 56%-61% ABV. The whiskey will be available to sample at The Whisky Show in London this weekend (30 September - 2 October).