Brown-Forman in Louisville, Kentucky retired its King of Kentucky Bourbon in 1968 when brown spirits began being outsold by clear spirits. In 2018 the company decided to revive the brand as a super-premium brand to a bourbon loving public.
King of Kentucky was established in 1881 as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Brown-Forman acquired the brand in 1936 from Selected Kentucky Distillers and, by 1940, converted it to a blended whiskey until it was discontinued in 1968. 2020 marks the third edition of this high proof Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey revival.
“Given Brown-Forman’s 150 year history of crafting great Kentucky Bourbon, it is a memorable event to bring back to life a long retired brand and to introduce it to a new generation of aficionados,” said Master Distiller Chris Morris. “King of Kentucky will provide whiskey connoisseurs with a rare look into Brown-Forman’s rich barrel archives.”
King of Kentucky is now an annual periodic release of a single barrel inventory featuring a barrel-strength, minimally-filtered proof presentation, with each release and every barrel being unique. For this year’s iteration Morris chose 37 barrels to set aside for the limited-release product. At maturity, several barrels were lost to the Angel’s Share. The average yield for all barrels was just 26%.
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“The King of Kentucky, now in its third year of release, continues to teach us about the impact that long-term heat cycled maturation has on barrel yield and flavor presentation,” said Morris. “Some barrels yield as little as one case of King but are not over wooded or astringent – in fact they are incredibly complex and flavorful. This is another stellar release of rich, dark Kentucky Bourbon flavor at its best.”
Due to the rarity of these barrels, there will be no defined annual volume. Just like the extra time it takes for the liquid to age, the package will also show a personal craftsmanship. 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.
2020 King of Kentucky Bourbon Tasting Notes and Specs
These tasting notes are provided by King of Kentucky.
Aroma: Deep notes of dried cherry, graham cracker and vanilla bean with a cotton candy and dark maple syrup sweetness all sharpened with a hint of caramelized orange peel and a pinch of mint.
Flavor: Dark caramel and maple syrup coat a layer of dark baking spices and cured tobacco herbal notes served alongside vanilla ice cream topped deep dish cherry cobbler.
Finish: Crisp and dry with a hint of lingering cherry cobbler.
Age: 14 years
Lot: 06F27, Warehouse: K, Floor: 8, Rick: 46
Color: Rich Umber
The third release of Brown-Forman’s King of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be hitting shelves this September. Most of the limited release will show up in store shelves in Kentucky with distribution in some markets in Illinois and Ohio. The 2020 130.6 proof (65.3% ABV) expression produced approximately 1,900 bottles and will be offered with a suggested retail of $249.99.