In the 1970s Bellows Club Bourbon was owned by National Distillers and contained whatever bourbon they wanted to put in it which has caused varying reports on its quality. It was a brand without a true home and in 1987 Bellows Club was sold to Beam and then in 2003 they sold it off to Luxco. Doing a Google image search turns up a variety of bottles so it looks like Bellows Club has survived over the years in varying forms with one of it’s most recent incarnations being an American Blended Whiskey.
This particular bottle of Bellows Club Bourbon is from around 1977 per the glass stamp on the bottom of the bottle and and after chatting with some folks who know more about bourbon history than I we figured it was either made in the Old Crow distillery or Glencoe. Further discussions all but eliminated Old Crow, though in the spirit of fairness I snuck it into a semi-blind Old Grand-Dad tasting a few weeks back and it stuck out like a sore thumb with a completely different flavor profile. Soon after I acquired a bottle of 1970s Old Crow and tasting them side-by-side yielded the same conclusion – this was not distilled at the Old Crow distillery. Which leaves us with the now dead Glencoe Distillery.
1970s Bellows Club Bourbon Info
Region: Kentucky, USA
Distiller: Likely Glencoe back when National Distillers owned it
Cask: New charred oak
Age: 6 years
Price: NA – Dusty
1970s Bellows Club Bourbon Review
Rusty red, like dried blood on white cotton.
Oak, caramel heavy dark sweets, complex dark fruit, spice and toasted nuts accompanied by lighter notes of cocoa, red licorice, hay-like malty quality and a light grainy bit of corn.
Dark fruit, complex molasses heavy dark sweets, oak, french vanilla frosting, oily nuts, spice, candied citrus and a mild hay-like malty quality that pops at the end.
Long with nice notes of dark fruit, caramel, vanilla cake, oak, spice, cough medicine.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Decent balance, med-full body and a silken inviting texture.
1970s Bellows Club Bourbon is pretty good and in a recent blind tasting at my house it took home the gold as the unanimous favorite. The nose and palate are nuanced and interesting, continuing to evolve the longer it’s exposed to air and allowed to stretch its legs after nearly 40 years of sitting in this bottle. It’s a tasty splash of bourbon history, but if you come across a bottle beware. This is a brand whose source has apparently changed often over the years. There are both good and bad things written about this brand, but this late 70s 6 year version is pretty darn good.