Whiskey Review: King of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Batch 3)

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Brown-Forman. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced 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.

You may know alcohol and wine company Brown-Forman from some of their well-established whiskey brands, such as Jack Daniel’s, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester. Personally, I always get the name confused with Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. That’s likely just me.

But one of their brands is new. Actually, it’s old. Now, it’s new(ish) again. King of Kentucky was established in 1881 as a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, and Brown-Forman purchased the brand in 1936, then discontinuing it in 1968. In 2018 (perhaps sensing the world needed more alcohol), they brought it back as a high-end, premium release. King of Kentucky is an annual, barrel-strength release of a single-barrel inventory. We reviewed the 2019 version and gave it high marks.

King’s barrels change every year: For example, the 2019 version is made up of 27 barrels. The version I got to sample, the 2020 version (aka Batch 3), is a 14-year-old bourbon that pulls from 37 different barrels. Each bottle is wax-dipped, and numbered by hand with details including proof, age, warehouse location, lot number, serial number, and barrel number.

King of Kentucky bourbon is also quite scarce. It doesn’t travel much: Batch 3 will only be released in Kentucky with a few bottled scattered around  Ohio and Illinois. (And that’s the first time it’s left Kentucky.) With about 1,900 bottles available, it ain’t cheap, either: Should you encounter a bottle, it’ll run you about $250.

King of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Batch 3)

King of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Batch 3) (image via Brown-Forman)

Tasting Notes: King of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (Batch 3)

Vital stats: Batch 3; 14 years old, 130.6 proof; non-chill filtered; single barrel; distilled and bottled by Brown-Foreman, Louisville, KY; mash bill of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% malted barley; suggested retail price of $250 a bottle.

Appearance: In fairness, I tried this during a hazy, smoky evening: smoke more coloring the sky than scenting the air. Everything was more orange than normal. Still, I would call this more brown than orange. Russet. Redwood bark.

Nose: Brown sugar bubbling in a pan with a stick of melted, good-quality butter.  Perfectly toasted toast. A wood quality, too, like a mix of fresh honey crisp apples and a whiff of a freshly sharpened Ticonderoga #2 pencil.

Palate: This…is lovely. It is extremely rich. Not going to lie, there’s heft of high-proof, but it’s not red-hot or even full of red-hot candy taste the way some of them are. It announces its arrival and it’s high-octane, but you won’t care because the taste is delicious. There’s that apple again, but on the palate it is richer, like apples in a pie with a cheddar cheese crust. There’s a chocolate tinge to it, too.

Redolent of Amarena cherries and the syrup they come in, on the finish. Your lips will tingle, but when you drink it, it has that thick quality. It drapes your tongue in richness and it is unashamed.

The Takeaway

Summary

Brown-Forman is not playin’ with this bourbon. Is it worth $250 a bottle? I’m not sure. It depends if it's worth it to you. If you enjoy collectible, difficult-to-locate whiskies, perhaps. You literally won’t find another like it.

4.5
User Rating 5 (1 vote)
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