Whisky Connosr

Kentucky Vintage

The Forgotten KBD Small Batch

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@VictorReview by @Victor

23rd Feb 2012


Kentucky Vintage
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Ltd., a family company owned by the Kulsveens, is currently bottling and marketing bourbon and rye whiskeys procured from other distillers. KBD brands include the Johnny Drum series of bourbons, the Old Bardstown series of bourbons, the Vintage bourbons and ryes, Willett Pot Still Bourbon, and four "small batch" bourbons: Noah's Mill, Rowan's Creek, Pure Kentucky XO, and Kentucky Vintage. The Willett single barrel bourbons and ryes are usually barrels privately sold by KBD to others and bottled by KBD.

For me, there is good news and bad news with KBD. The good news is that most of their products are quite good. The bad news for a connoisseur is that you never are quite certain where the whiskey came from. Why is this bad news? First, it is a little unsatisfying not to know the story and origins of the whiskey. Second, if a brand has no firm distillery roots, it can change distilleries and character without notice. Where I live Kentucky Vintage is the hardest to find of the four KBD "small batch" bourbon brands.

The reviewed bottle is from Batch # 10-46. There is no age statement on the bottle, other than "...allowed to age long beyond that of any ordinary bourbon...." Wikipedia reports Kentucky Vintage to be 17 years old. The reviewed bottle has been open approximately 12 months with only about 50 ml consumed prior to tasting for this review.

Body: medium

Colour: quite dark and woody

Nose: strong vanilla with maple, quite sweet, mostly middle and high notes. A little dried fruit. Very strong but undifferentiated rye spice.

Palate: sweet, woody, actually too much wood, continues with the undifferentiated spice and the medium and high notes. The vanilla is less in the mouth than is present in the nose.

Finish: pleasant, medium length, but with a bit of a bitter note, probably from the wood.

Balance: overall, this is a nice bourbon, but the bitterness on the finish detracts from the total effect. This batch of Kentucky Vintage just seems to have been too long in the wood. A few additional bass notes would also be helpful here.

Jim Murray rated a different batch of Kentucky Vintage 94.5 pts in his 2012 Whisky Bible. Batch # 10-46 doesn't get to that level for me.

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stevesmyth30 commented

I love the nose on this..it has great legs too...it just hangs on the side of the glass for what feels like minutes. I agree with the palate as well with sweet and woody, although I tasted the vanilla through the entire process. Its so funny you say that it 'stayed too long in the wood". The aftertaste to me, felt like...and please dont laugh at how crude this is but, like when I used to chew on my pencils during a test. It had that nasty wooded taste....almost like a popsicle stick taste...so I think you nailed it....bitter follow through. It may make someone gasp, but this has been relegated to one of my "bourbon and coke" bourbons.

12 years ago 0

Victor commented

@stevesmyth30, I understand your consideration of a too-woody batch of Kentucky Vintage for bourbon and coke, or some other type of mixer. I was able to buy this bottle of Kentucky Vintage for less than $ 30. It could stand to reason that these are probably not the best barrels if one can buy 17 year old bourbon for under $ 30. I don't dispute, though, that Jim Murray might have sampled one of the better batches of it, when he gave it a very high grade this year.

12 years ago 0