Every bourbon is special — but then there’s Blood Oath, the ultra-premium bourbon released by Lux Row Distillers once a year, in limited quantities and at a premium price.
Blood Oath debuted in 2015 as the signature brand of Lux Row’s head distiller and master blender, John Rempe. From the very first Pact No. 1 and on through subsequent editions, Blood Oath has become a sought-after item for bourbon enthusiasts and collectors alike.
Packaged in a fire-branded wooden box, each release comes in a bottle sealed with a custom natural cork. The bourbon bottle is also hand-labeled with Rempe’s signature, the creation date, and the story behind it.
For Rempe, it’s a creative enterprise that allows him to experiment and explore what makes bourbon the alluring elixir it is. His latest release, Pact No. 5, is perhaps his most sublime yet. It combines three bourbons (two ryed and one wheated), with one of the ryed bourbons actually being finished in Caribbean rum barrels. The result: a well-balanced, spicy-sweet lingering bourbon with complex flavor notes. It’s limited to 15,000 cases, bottled at 98.6 proof, and has a suggested retail price of $99.99.
Here are Rempe’s thoughts on this exciting new release.
How does Pact No. 5 fit into the history of Blood Oath?
Pact No. 1 was my first release, and for that one, I didn’t do a barrel finish. I had three outstanding Kentucky bourbons we blended together to form a balanced, delicious end result.
Pact No. 2 was when I started to get more creative. We finished it in port barrels, which gave the bourbon fruity and herbal notes.
For Pact No. 3, we partnered with Swanson Vineyards in Napa Valley and aged the blend in some of their Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. It gave the bourbon a subtle, fruity, Cabernet-wine quality, with an earthy, French oak note.
Pact No. 4 had a toasted oak finish. We got creative with that one. We used barrels from our Lux Row sibling brand, Rebel Yell 10-Year Single Barrel. We sent them to a cooperage where they disassembled the barrels, scraped off the char, reassembled them, and put a deep toast on the inside. It brought out strong dark chocolate and caramel notes. It’s an incredible bourbon.
Pact No. 5 is my favorite. It’s three bourbons, one of which I finished for six months in these Caribbean rum casks. It brought out all sorts of flavors, from dark fruit to molasses to prune and plum.
Why Caribbean rum?
I went there because of my affinity for aged rums. I’m a big fan of aged rums, and I wanted a little of that sweetness of the sugarcane and molasses. It’s just something I dreamt up. I’m always thinking of different approaches. I’m already thinking of next year’s and the year after that.
How do you handle demand?
We’ve got retailers screaming for more cases, and now that our bourbons are available in Europe, too, the demand is even higher. Every year, the release is sold before we bottle it, and we’re forced to ration it out. We have increased the number of cases slightly over the years, but it’s still a limited edition, and we intend to keep it that way. It definitely has evolved into a collector’s item.