Whiskey Review: Chicken Cock 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof Limited Release

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Grain & Barrel Spirits. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced 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.

Some of the best whiskeys have the oldest ghosts. History shapes the taste, quality, and reputation of a whiskey brand, and the noteworthy ones stick around for a long, long time.

Chicken Cock was originally established in 1856 in Paris, Kentucky. The brand made a name for itself during Prohibition as the house whiskey for the iconic speakeasy The Cotton Club in Harlem. The locals called it “The Whiskey in a Tin Can” because of the method it was smuggled.

I love to picture The Cotton Club at full swing in the 1920s. Stories are told of Duke Ellington leading a rip-roaring jazz band while sipping Chicken Cock out of a sealed can.

After Prohibition, it was noted by brand owner Grain & Barrel Spirits, “the brand enjoyed a resurgent couple of decades before a distillery fire just after World War II put it out of business. In 2012, Matti Anttila, founder of Grain & Barrel Spirits, rediscovered the brand and set out to resurrect it to its Prohibition-era glory.”

The recently released Chicken Cock 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof Limited Release, which is what I focus on here, is a divine bourbon from brand master distiller Gregg Snyder. The limited release is also referenced as “Master Distiller’s Pick”. Snyder handpicked ten special barrels from a selection of the the brand’s oldest and best. The barrels, bottled at barrel proof, yielded only 1,350 bottles at 114 proof.

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On my first tasting, I was overcome with an enveloping mouthfeel that accentuated very unique flavors. This whiskey conquers the palate. Over the course of two tastings I found more to love. I could really taste the oak, resulting in a beautifully full and rich flavor profile.

Presented in a beautiful vintage-style decanter with a metal cap, I think any connoisseur would consider this deluxe whiskey a proud addition to their cellarette.

Chicken Cock Master Distiller's Pick

Chicken Cock Master Distiller’s Pick (image via Grain & Barrel Spirits)

Tasting Notes: Chicken Cock 15-Year-Old Barrel Proof Limited Release

Vital Stats: 114 proof (57% ABV). 1,350 bottles produced at around $300/750ml. Aged 15 years. Mash bill: 78.5% corn, 13%rye, 8.5% malted barley.

Appearance: Very dark gold color with long legs.

Nose: First notes of tobacco, more specifically pipe smoke, then the oak barrels came though along with accents of cherry and brown sugar.

Palate: Over the course of the tasting, these flavors really shifted on the palate. In the course of the mouth-coating tasting, the flavor of cinnamon and cherry, with a bite of orange peel and cocoa. It has a beautiful long finish, with that bit of smoke on the back.

The Takeaway

Summary

This is a very high-quality whiskey that I am glad to have the opportunity to enjoy. It has aged into a comforting, warm bit of bourbon. Over a couple of tastings I found aspects that I missed before. The complexity of the flavor profile is a testament to master distiller Gregg Snyder’s deft palate.

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