Similar to other brands reviving historic labels (here’s our article about other similar efforts), Campari, owner of Wild Turkey, also plans to release recreations of historically significant bourbons. For an initial release to its Whiskey Barons Collection, Bond & Lillard Bourbon and Old Ripy Bourbon will rise from the bourbon graveyard later this year. Other than the press materials received with the samples of Bond & Lillard and Old Ripy, not much information currently exists for the Whiskey Barons Collection project. So, stay tuned for details regarding other historic brands that may receive the resurrection treatment.
Since our earlier coverage included the history of both brands, we’ll just hit the highlights. Distilled near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, the Bond & Lillard brand came into existence in 1869 as a partnership between William Bond and C.C. Lillard. Also distilled in Lawrenceburg, James Ripy started Old Ripy in 1868. Logically, the connection to Lawrenceburg, the home of Wild Turkey, made the selection of these two brands to revive an easy choice.
As one would expect for a bourbon from Campari, Wild Turkey distilled the bourbon for both brands. However, as noted in a press note to us on these releases, neither Jimmy Russell nor Eddie Russell were involved in the creation. Eddie, however, will be involved in development of future products under the Whiskey Barons brand. Additionally, while the press materials state that both bourbons are distilled and bottled at Wild Turkey, whether Campari used Wild Turkey bourbon to fill the bottles remains unclear.
Whenever a new brand hits the shelf from a big distiller, one has to wonder whether just the packaging and price are the only differences. Fortunately, the recent Wild Turkey Round Up left me with some bourbon for comparison, so on to the tasting.
Tasting Notes: Bond & Lillard Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged for at least seven years, Bond & Lillard bourbon clocks in at 100 proof. As with all Wild Turkey bourbon, the mash bill includes corn, rye, and malted barley. For this bourbon, Campari used charcoal filtering, which according to the press materials, “simulates the aeration process that happens in the barrel, converting more aggressive congeners to esters that end in more elegant top notes.”
Bond & Lillard retails for about $50 per 375 mL bottle in select markets.
Appearance: The charcoal filtering appears to have lightened the bourbon such that Bond & Lillard appears a light honey brown in the glass.
Nose: Notes of cream and vanilla dominate the nose, while very light notes of baking spice and citrus mingle underneath.
Palate: Delicate notes of apricot and citrus lead off the front of the palate. In the mid-palate, the lighter fruit notes become overpowered by baking spice, caramelized sugar, and light seasoned oak notes.
For the finish, Bond & Lillard turns slightly dry, and the baking spice and seasoned oak notes from the mid palate carry over.
Final Thoughts and Score:
Campari relied on historic records, living family members, and tasting notes in an effort to recreate the original Bond & Lillard brand. Since I have not had the original bourbon, I cannot comment on whether Campari succeeded in that endeavor. However, I will say that Campari succeeded in creating a bourbon that’s different than all other Wild Turkey products I have tried.
With all that in mind, Bond & Lillard falls into the interesting whiskey category and certainly one worth seeking out for a drink.
Tasting Notes: Old Ripy Bourbon
Vital Stats: As provided in the press materials, Old Ripy includes “a combination of eight-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon with 12-year-old and younger whiskies for added complexity and oak.” If that statement seems bewildering, you’re not alone.
Choosing to describe only the eight-year-old portion as Kentucky straight bourbon leaves some open questions about the other whiskey. However, the label on the image included in the press materials clearly includes the straight bourbon designation. Similar to Bond & Lillard, the mash bill for Old Ripy includes corn, rye, and malted barley.
Bottled at 104 proof, Old Ripy retails for about $50 per 375 mL in select markets.
Appearance: Old Ripy appears a copper-brown in the glass.
Nose: Notes of caramel, toasted pecan, oak, and vanilla balance on the nose with lighter spice and floral notes.
Palate: Up front, it leads off with strong cinnamon, seasoned oak, and pepper notes, and in the middle, light cream and apple notes slightly balance the stronger notes that carry over from the front.
Seasoned oak note and pepper notes continue at the finish, while other flavors subside and flatten to create a dry and spicy finish.
Final Thoughts & Score:
After a few sips, I thought Old Ripy was essentially Wild Turkey Rare Breed in a different bottle. The ages of the bourbons used in Old Ripy even seemed similar to Rare Breed’s profile. So, to settle the debate, I poured the current batch of Rare Breed for comparison. Side-by-side, Old Ripy is different than Rare Breed. While Rare Breed and Old Ripy exhibit similarities, Old Ripy carries more of the seasoned oak notes from start to finish. With that in mind, the enduring spice notes, seasoned oak notes, and dry finish of Old Ripy jump out in stark contrast to the sweeter notes present in Rare Breed.
So, as with Bond & Lillard, Campari succeeded in making Old Ripy bourbon different than Wild Turkey offerings. Old Ripy is another interesting bourbon that I would certainly suggest seeking out for a drink.
Editor’s Note: Samples of these whiskies were provided to us by those behind them. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, kept full independent editorial control over this article.