Whiskey Review: Chicken Cock Bourbon

File “Chicken Cock” under “Things I Never Knew Until I Started Reviewing Whiskey.” Chicken Cock Whiskey got its start in 1856 in Paris.

Paris, Kentucky, that is.

It rose (heh) quickly in popularity during the 19th century, and was served during prohibition as the house whiskey at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem, New York, where it would be slipped inside in nondescript tin cans that had been smuggled into the country in secret, unlawful pleasure. But the Chicken Cock’s luck deflated in the 1950s, when the original distillery burned down. Subsequent efforts to resuscitate the whiskey proved soft…until recently.

Now they’ve sprung up again, produced by Grain & Barrel Spirits. To be fair, Grain & Barrel doesn’t claim to be producers of the whiskey; they are blenders. The whiskey has a mash bill of 70 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and nine percent malted barley. It was also distilled in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (MGP?) and aged in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Chicken Cock recently has come out with a 160th anniversary bottle, which looks really cool in person. It’s a replica of a pre-prohibition bottle of the whiskey. 30 barrels were released in all; I got to try barrel #2 .

Chicken Cock Bourbon

Tasting Notes: Chicken Cock Bourbon

Vital stats: Mash bill of 70 percent corn, 21 percent rye, and nine percent malted barley; finished in new oak; around $100.

Color: Extra virgin olive oil; early morning light in the summer during fire season; pale marigold.

Nose: Apples, red licorice, red hots candies, sugar-free gummy bears. Smells a little chemically sweet, but not unpleasant. Actually, its scent is like one of those “Pick & Mix” candy kiosks at the mall. (You know what I’m talking about? Do they still have those? Kiosks? Malls?)

Palate: Surprise to me! This is a little bigger than I would have thought initially, and more complex than I initially gave it credit for. It seems like an old-ish brand, in a way. (It smells like light red – maybe I have whiskey synesthesia?) It’s pleasant, smooth, easy, and non-threatening. Despite (or maybe because of) its name, it would be a fun whiskey to have out and let people try. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The Takeaway

I’d drink this on the rocks, but really: This screams to be made into an Old Fashioned. Or a mint julep. Something that’s very alcohol-driven, but with a little something extra to complement it.

3
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About the author

Carin Moonin

A decade ago, I traded a 5th floor walkup in Hoboken, NJ for a house in SE Portland and remain grateful for the swap. Portland’s a great whiskey town: It fits the weather and my general mood (even improves it sometimes). I enjoy exploring the many shades of brown liquor and learning what it can do for me. I’ve written for publications including Salon.com, DailyDot.com, Willamette Week, Portland Monthly, and more. When I’m not drinking whiskey or writing about it, I can be found running, reading, or seeking out free samples in grocery stores.

  • Art Aguilar

    Sounds like it’s a good stiff drink to have straight up. Oh man, I’m so juvenile.