Kentucky’s Finest Bourbon and Rye, The Wiseman, Has Just Landed In Australia

Kentucky’s Finest Bourbon and Rye, The Wiseman, Has Just Landed In Australia

Randy Lai
Randy Lai


As Australians continue to expand their horizons beyond the well-trod domain of Scotch whisky, an increasing number of new Bourbon brands have entered the market – keen to tap the desire, amongst intrepid Aussie dram lovers, for traditionally crafted dark spirits of rock-solid quality.  

The Wiseman, a duo of straight Bourbon whiskey and Rye, is a par excellence example of this. Available domestically for the very first time, these are two Bourbon expressions that more or less have it all (particularly for those spirit drinkers still getting acquainted with the wildly popular American whiskey category). 

Traditionally crafted in Bardstown, KY by a pivotal figure of American distilling, both The Wiseman Rye and Wiseman Bourbon are astute additions to the home bar – successfully meeting our twofold requirement (here at Boss Hunting HQ) for whiskey that is as capable in classic cocktails as it is in your preferred rocks glass.  

Do a little digging, and it readily becomes apparent that these two Wiseman expressions are of crucial significance to the burgeoning range of ultra-premium releases from Kentucky – the spiritual home of American Whiskey. This is the label’s second set of releases since the highly enjoyable ‘Confiscated’ bottling, these are largely both labours of love masterminded by John Rhea – The Wiseman and Kentucky Owl’s Master Blender. 

Renowned throughout the US as a “distinguished Bourbon Hall of Famer”, Rhea was – until recently – enjoying a life of well-earned retirement. In 2021, he made the unexpected decision to return to the fold, citing “the opportunity to serve as steward” to the Kentucky Owl family and its exciting new range of classically styled Wiseman whiskeys:

“These spirits embody the rich traditions of bourbon and rye craftsmanship, and we can’t wait to share [them] with enthusiasts across Australia.”

Rhea’s close involvement with these new bottlings lends them more than a little credibility. For the majority of his career, the veteran whisky maker was a valued member of the historic Four Roses brand. By the time he announced his retirement in 2016, he had risen to the rank of Chief Operating Officer – having begun his journey as a humble distillery technician.

In addition to these many decades of technical experience, Rhea is one of only five individuals to be awarded ‘Lifetime Membership’ in the Kentucky Distillers’ Association: an accolade bestowed upon him, as a result of his 17-year tenure on the organisation’s Board of Directors, for a “significant and transformational impact” on Bourbon’s global stature. 

This evidently strong grasp of fundamentals is expressed in the Wiseman Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($119). Taking advantage of Rhea’s proven mastery in the art of blending, this eminently approachable whiskey brings together a selection of four different Bourbons: all with nuances in age and individual mash bills. Some are high-rye; some are aged for over 5 years; all play well when combined together.  

For American whiskey enthusiasts, this translates into a traditionally styled Kentucky Straight. Brimming with caramel and toasty oak flavours, The Wiseman Bourbon provides a lot of straight-up drinking pleasure: a two-time ‘double gold’ medalist at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) that The Wiseman staffers encourage you to stir into a classic Manhatten or into a range of original recipes like the ‘Night Owl Martini’ or ‘Wise Chai New Fashioned’. 

If you’re in the market for Bourbon that travels down the gullet with slightly more bite, however, then the chances are you’ll enjoy the Wiseman Straight Rye. As advertised by the name, this traditionally crafted Bourbon is blended in accordance with a recipe that is 95% rye; and that staple grain makes its presence known right from the get-go. 

Yet another gold medal winner (SFWSC 2022) for the crew, the Wiseman Straight Rye is a drop Rhea is confident will appeal to drinkers who enjoy the “artistry” of American whiskey making. Layered whiffs of freshly baked rye bread and cinnamon leap straight out of the glass, and there is a perceptible progression of that rye theme – we suspect the 50.4% ABV plays a role – once you get into the decisive part of tasting. 

Unlike a lot of Canadian or Indiana ryes, this Wiseman bottling keeps the style’s spiciness and earthy undertones in balance with “a near perfect level of intensity in the finish”. High praise indeed – and with a few more weeks of cool crisp weather on the horizon, a verdict you can look forward to testing yourself. 

This article is sponsored by The Wiseman. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Boss Hunting.

Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].



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