I have to say, this bottle caught my eye at a small Kentucky gas station – liquor store. I’d not seen it before, and daughter #1 – the history fiend – presented it to me for Christmas. Sporting of Ol’ Blood and Guts Patton, I wondered if the spirit inside would live up to his legend.
Sometimes bottles can be pretty nondescript – this one however spelled out the inspiration for this spirit with a quote from General George S. Patton, Jr.: I am a soldier. I fight where I am told, I win where I fight.
The phrase “Armored Diesel” is derived from a beverage made famous by the 2nd Armored Division during World War II. The actual recipe has a number of variations, but was generally considered a mixture of bourbon, whiskey, scotch and white wine. Another recipe even included a shot of cherry juice to symbolize “the blood of our enemies”. While it contained a variety of ingredients, the single name represented the cohesion of the U.S. 2nd Armored Division and the iron will of one of its first commanders, George Patton, Jr.
Patton led the 2nd Armored through the first few months of the war, before George was promoted to lead the 7th Army, which subsequently included the 2nd Armored. These units were engaged in the fight in North Africa in 1942, Italy in 1943, Normandy and Ardennes in 1944, and subsequently crossed the Rhine River in 1945.
My father fought in Europe in 1944 and 1945, including engagements at the Battle of the Bulge December 1944 – January 1945. To him and all the other members of the Greatest Generation, I lift my glass in humble gratitude.
The product is produced by the Boundary Oak Distillery in Radcliff, KY and was introduced in 2016. It is bottled at a low 80-proof and comes in a beautiful bottle bearing Patton on the front and 2nd Armored troops on the back. Based on the website map, distribution is limited to Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee at this time.
As I investigated this further, I was utterly astounded to find that I wasn’t holding a bottle of bourbon – instead it was “cane spirits finished in oak bourbon barrels”. What’s that? Amber – or “cane spirits” have been around since before the Revolutionary War. Cane spirits are made with sugar cane instead of grain. The result in this expression is essentially a white rum that has been aged in oak bourbon barrels to provide color and flavor.
This expression was created with the help of Patton’s grandson – George Patton Waters – who shares that amber – cane spirits – was Ol’ Blood & Gut’s drink of choice.
Eye: Sun-bleached straw. Very light.
Nose: Sweetness with some light cherry and tart lemon notes.
Palate: Sweet with some tobacco notes. This is just very different. Definitely not bourbon-like, but it does mellow and soften more when chilled with some ice – like simple syrup with a splash of bourbon.
Finish: Medium. Oaky dryness.
Overall: So first – this is a little hard to judge. Compared to what I was expecting (bourbon) – it’s definitely not that. But for a “white rum that’s finished in bourbon barrels” – it’s an interesting expression. It’s smooth and I’ll definitely need to connect with my trust sidekick to try it out in a cocktail.
The website indicates that there are plans for a 10-year expression American Whiskey to celebrate Patton’s establishment of the US Tank Corps at the end of World War I. I will be on the look-out for that interesting unicorn.
Overall, this lives up as a unique spirit, named after a general who was a “one and only”.
Thanks Dad, and everyone else, for the sacrifices you made. We’re all here today because of you!