King of Kentucky is the tipping point where Bourbon’s slow-paced legacies meet the contemporary explosion of interest in the category.
Established in 1881 as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, King of Kentucky’s post-Prohibition experience reflected tastes of the times. It was converted to a blended whiskey with the addition of grain neutral spirits, then discontinued altogether in 1968.
In 2018 King of Kentucky was revived by Brown-Forman. The label’s second expression in 2019 reflects the selection of 15-year-old barrels from two different production dates.
In an article at Forbes, writer Fred Minnick asked Brown-Forman’s master distiller Chris Morris how the reconstituted King of Kentucky fits in the company’s portfolio.
“King is difficult to assign a place in our Kentucky Bourbon portfolio. This is due to the fact that it is a single barrel expression. Some barrels remind me of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, some Old Forester 1920, others Birthday Bourbon or Woodford Reserve Batch Proof. The variation in King’s flavor presentation is amazing. Our other BF Bourbon Family members present the palate with consistent flavor profiles. Every barrel of King is a unique experience unto itself.”
According to Brown-Forman, “King of Kentucky is an annual/on-going periodic release of a single barrel inventory featuring a barrel-strength, minimally-filtered proof presentation, with each release and every barrel being unique … (and) due to the rarity of these barrels, there will be no defined annual volume.”
Rare, indeed. King of Kentucky’s second edition, which went on sale June 29, is limited to 2,000 bottles at a suggested retail of $249.99.
“Every bottle will tell the story of its origin through the details on the front and back of its package. All will be filled, bottled, wax-dipped, and numbered by hand with details including proof, age, warehouse location, lot number, serial number, and barrel number, all selected by Master Distiller Chris Morris.”
Age: 15 years
Lot # 04E14 Warehouse O Floor 1, Rick 104
Color: Bright Sorghum
Aroma: Rich notes of dark honeycomb, caramel, marzipan and toasted coconut are enhanced with hints of toasted hazelnut, vanilla and dried apricot fruit. All are brightened with resinous oak, cinnamon and clove spice character.
Flavor: Creamy honeycomb and creme brulee caramel coat a rich oak backbone that dance with hints of ripe melon, dry apple peel and cardamon spice.
Finish: Long and warm with an apple peel dryness