Make no mistake – Charles Goodnight is a boutique white label bourbon with a bit of an identity crisis. Its shtick is that it pays homage to Charles Goodnight, a confederate, Texas Ranger and cattleman. By all accounts he was a man’s man, but aside from sheer marketing appeal of an “old timey” character – what a Texan has to do with a Kentucky bourbon is beyond me. Further muddying the waters is the fact that on the back of the bottle – it notes that it’s bottled by Goodnight Distillery in Parlier, California. So let’s recap… a Kentucky Bourbon, bottled in California to honor a Texan – sorry this doesn’t compute. Peel back the curtains however and do some digging and you find it’s a bourbon made by Wild Turkey, with a snazzy label and a random association to an old cowboy to make it chic.
Much to my surprise however, the contents do not disappoint. In fact, I’d go as far as to say, this is the smoothest drinking 100 proof bourbon I’ve had the pleasure of indulging. The bottle does not denote an age and it’s no surprise as this is likely a young bourbon – it lacks the complexity of juice boasting double digit age.
With a deep amber hue and a one noted fragrance of malted corn, you don’t expect much yet as it slides across your tongue, its sweet and delicate flavor, buttery smooth finish and complete lack of bite make this is a simple, yet satisfying libation. It bears repeating – for 100 proof, I think this takes the prize as the smoothest path to a bourbon induced hangover.
While Charles Goodnight won’t send your mind wandering in contemplation of a higher power, it is a superlative 100 proof sipping bourbon that offers such a smooth taste neat, few 80 proof bourbons on the rocks could match it. The six colored label and the overstretched and unnecessary tie to Charles Goodnight do make it the “Dog the Bounty Hunter” of bourbons – more flash and big talk than needed, but righteous intention. All said, for under $50 – it’s a particularly smooth offering that’s worth a look. For a world class Manhattan or a lazy winter nights dram, it’s a lovely, albeit expensive “Auto-pilot.”
Would I buy it again? No. I can turn my brain off and watch a few episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter… but then I yearn for a plot, better actors, a script and some eye candy.