Whiskey Review: King of Kentucky 15 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Brown-Forman. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Best known for its Jack Daniels and Woodford Reserve brands, parent company Brown-Forman was formed in 1890 when George Garvin Brown began a partnership with George Forman. It survived, and perhaps thrived, during Prohibition by being granted permission to distill whiskey for medicinal purposes. In 1936, Brown-Forman purchased the King of Kentucky brand, which was established in 1881 by Selected Kentucky Distillers. As brown spirits plummeted in popularity after the 1950s, Brown-Forman diversified its portfolio into other types of alcoholic beverages and consumer goods, and discontinued production of the King of Kentucky in 1968.

Brown-Forman revived King of Kentucky as a premium line in 2018 just in time for the explosion of interest in craft bourbon and whiskey. For each release, Master Distiller Chris Morris hand selected the barrels from which the final spirits would be drawn, noting that “At maturity, several barrels were lost to the Angel’s Share.” Releases will vary significantly in final bottle amounts due to differing amounts of loss in these barrels. But, according to Morris, the whiskies will be an excellent education on “the impact that long-term heat cycled maturation has on barrel yield and flavor presentation.”

For the fifth anniversary of the relaunch of the brand, Morris selected two barrels from those set aside: the 15-year expression is sourced from a barrel laid down in 2006 (presumably late in the year), and the 18-year expression from a barrel laid down in 2004. Both were released in August 2022. Only a few thousand bottles were produced of either and were released primarily in Kentucky, with some bottles of the 15-year making it to Illinois and Ohio.

The King of Kentucky 15 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon release is sourced from barrel number 14. Though not confirmed by the distillery, the base spirit is generally acknowledged to be the same mash bill as Early Times (which was sold to Sazerac in 2020): 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley. The bourbon was bottled at barrel proof and non-chill filtered. The official tasting note describes the bourbon as showing aromas of “dark sorghum, resinous oak and honey top a medley of dried fruit and rich cigar tobacco,” and flavors of “oak spices, dried fruit and sorghum.” Admittedly, it’s been some time since I’ve encountered sorghum, but I found their tasting note to be on theme with mine.

King of Kentucky 2022

Tasting Notes: King of Kentucky 15 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: Aged for 15 years in new American oak in barrel number 14, 65.3% ABV, Mash bill undisclosed, SRP $249.99 but $2,300+ on the secondary market/ 750ml bottle.

Appearance: This is deep golden mahogany with an orange undertone.

Nose: A whiff of volatile acidity gives way to pungent, fruit-driven aromas of red cherries and caramel apples. The nose is fun and friendly with a sweet vanilla and toasty caramel scent. There are notes of red apples, clove, dried banana chips, and mild tobacco.

Palate: On the palate, the high proof tickles the tongue and offers up a viscous body with moderate tannins and a fiery burn. The primary flavors are woodsy and loaded with vanilla with a touch of pine smoke. The finish showcases much of the initial aromas, offering notes of red cherries, banana cream pie, and pastry dough. The spirit is very strongly flavored, but the high proof overwhelms the palate. A splash of water tones the aggressiveness down, but it still has a peppery bite.

Source link

Shopping Cart