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Penelope Four Grain Toasted Barrel Bourbon – How & Why

Published February 15, 2022


I wish my parents had named a whiskey brand after me! Mike Paladini and Danny Polise founded were longtime friends and founded this whiskey company together. The brand is named after Mike’s daughter and I just know she will be a whiskey drinker when she grows up, she must!

Based out of New Jersey, Charles, Dan, and I started the drive down south first thing in the morning. You always want to try and avoid the rush hours of North Jersey / NYC traffic. Right on time, we parked on the street and walked in as Mike was arriving. I was pretty excited since I didn’t know much about Penelope. Outside of a small taste of one of their four-grain whiskeys, I was pretty naive on what the whole operation entailed. The visit was quickly very casual, happy, and refreshing. A small warehouse and blending area right in the heart of industrial Roselle, just south of Elizabeth and not far from Newark.

We were waiting for Dan’s brother to arrive so he could join in on the tasting, it is always good to have a few additional good noses around when picking a single barrel. We jumped right in with what we were after; a four grain, toasted barrel single barrel. Not only has the Penelope four-grain mash bill become quite popular but so has their latest toasted series. Toasted barrels in general have been popping up on shelves all over the USA via different whiskey brands. This is most likely to help diversify and set themselves apart but also because of the lovely rich, nutty vanilla and chocolate notes you can find with this toasted cask finish. We found one that we all liked and decided to take a tour of the place and come back and visit it just to make sure.

While peeking through racks of casks and asking about their blending process, something caught our eye in the corner. A few casks, nothing too dissimilar to what we were looking at for the past twenty minutes but as you focused your eyes you could just barely read what was written on the plain white sticker stuck to the cask: Light Whiskey. I stopped everyone and asked Mike what was the deal, when did he get these? I had only ever seen light whiskey at High West Distillery back in 2017 and it was a lovely strawberry custard flavored whiskey. We had to taste it and quickly got sidetracked from our toasted barrel blending session. SPOILER ALERT: we left Penelope having picked two casks, not one – wink wink!

As we all gathered back into the main office area and our toasted Bourbon had been sitting out in the glass, we were enamored. This was our whiskey, it would be coming to our shop, it must. Just to ensure we had that rich toasted quality we all agreed to leave the whiskey in barrel for one more month. And voila, one month later we received a sample and the extra time had done the whiskey well. Welcome to the family, Cask #490, Penelope 4 Grain Toasted Single Barrel!

  • Proof / ABV: 115 proof / 57.5% ABV
  • Batch: S2 – then re-barreled and our cask was #490
  • Char Level 1 / Heavy Toast
  • Mashbill: Undisclosed but is a 4 grain – Corn, Rye, Wheat, and Malted Barley
  • Years Old: 4-5
  • Bottles: 120
  • Tasting Notes:

Holly – The nose has notes of almond butter crunch with some red apples. Syrupy, dripping caramel with dashes of vanilla nougat. The palate has spice upfront with cinnamon and brown sugar followed by peanut toffee chocolate clusters fresh right from the chocolate store. Hot chocolate with marshmallows allows for more rye spice again on the finish. A long caramel and pepper finish.

Charles – The nose has pecans, caramel, cherry, and vanilla. The palate has cherry cola spice, nuts, cocoa, berry, and viscous with a long brown sugar and syrup finish followed by oak and black pepper.


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