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Blended Whiskey

King of Kentucky barrel strength premium bourbon release

King of Kentucky, Brown-Forman’s super-premium bourbon, is making it a double this year in honor of the fifth anniversary of the brand revival.

“We are excited to celebrate the fifth year of the King of Kentucky brand with the return of two special expressions,” said master distiller Chris Morris, in a news release. “This brand demonstrates Brown-Forman’s commitment to and expertise in the growing American Whiskey category.”

King of Kentucky was established in 1881; Brown-Forman acquired the brand in 1936 from Selected Kentucky Distillers and by 1940 had converted it to a blended whiskey. It was discontinued in 1968. The label was revived in 2018, once again as a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.

Each year’s release is barrel-strength and minimally filtered. For the 2022 version, Morris chose two lots of barrels — one from 2004, one from 2006 — set aside for the limited-release product.

King of Ky combo.jpg
King of Kentucky 15-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, left, and King of Kentucky 18-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon at right. Both are high-proof, rare premium bourbons from Brown-Forman. Photos provided

15-year-old King of Kentucky bourbon

The first expression is a 15-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon. About 3,500 bottles will be available, with a suggested retail price of about $250. This version of King of Kentucky will be available at retail stores in Kentucky, as well as Illinois and Ohio in limited amounts.

According to the tasting notes, it’s 130.6 proof, with a nose of dark sorghum, resinous oak and honey atop a medley of dried fruit and cigar tobacco, with oak, spices, dried fruit and sorghum on the palate.

18-year-old King of Kentucky bourbon

The second expression is a very limited 18-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, with only about 250 bottles available only in Kentucky, with a suggested retail price of about $350.

According to the tasting notes, this version is 130.3 proof, with a nose of rich molasses, dark caramel and aged honeycomb, with hints of tea leaf and ripe tree fruit and a palate of baked spiced tree fruit, molasses and dark tea.

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Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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