KO Distilling Releases Two New Rye Focused American Whiskeys

, | September 25, 2021

Virginia whiskey maker KO Distilling just released two new additions to its portfolio of American whiskeys, their Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey and Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon.

American rye whiskey in general is seemingly having a renaissance, with more than 1.26 million 9-liter cases in annual depletions last year. This is something KO is looking to get in on more.

KO’s Distiller’s Reserve Straight Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey is made from 100 percent local Virginia rye, distilled in one season and aged for four years in charred new American Oak barrels.

Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey and Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon.

Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Rye Whiskey and Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon. (image via KO Distilling)

The result is KO Distilling’s second Bottled-in-Bond expression, a sequel to KO’s Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, released in 2020. That spirit garnered KO a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Their new Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon is made from 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Wheat and was sourced from Indiana six years ago, when KO Distilling was founded.

At that time, it was put into charred new American Oak barrels and has been aging in KO’s Manassas, Virginia, warehouse.

In keeping with the Bare Knuckle brand, which honors historic fighting figures, the six year old Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon bottle features International Boxing Hall of Famer Joe “Old Master” Gans – the first 20th century African-American World Boxing Champion and the World Lightweight Champion from 1902–1908. It will be offered in both single barrel and cask strengths.

“At KO Distilling, we take great pride in crafting spirits that reflect the perseverance that makes this country great,” said Co-Founder and CEO Bill Karlson in a prepared statement. “Every bottle is a result of our careful approach to distilling, which combines state-of-the-art equipment with the skills of our production team to produce the best of American spirits.  We’re thrilled to raise a glass and welcome these two new additions to our portfolio.”

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Founded by long-time friends and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy classmates Bill Karlson, “K,” and John O’Mara, “O,” KO Distilling is a craft producer of clear unaged spirits, including three gins and a white whiskey, as well as aged small-batch whiskeys.

KO Distiller’s Reserve Rye Whiskey and Bare Knuckle High Rye expressions are initially available in Virginia, DC, Maryland and Delaware. They will also be available online for shipments, where legal.

KO Distiller’s Reserve Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey

  • 4 years old; 100 proof
  • Distilled by KO Distilling in one distilling season
  • Hand-crafted from 100% Virginia Rye
  • SRP:  $74.99 (750mL)

Bare Knuckle High Rye Bourbon 

  • 6 years old
  • 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
  • Distilled in Indiana, aged in Virginia
  • Single Barrel (90 proof) SRP:  $59.99 (750mL)
  • Cask Strength (126 proof) SRP:  $72.99 (750mL)


Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether...