Review: Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon

Review: Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon

ProductImages-Kentucky Gentleman KSBW 80prf 1000ml Glass (1)Initially I was apprehensive to even approach this long-standing brand, as the gentleman who stumbles down my street during his early morning commute usually has a pint of the stuff firmly fastened in hand. However, Kentucky Gentleman has recently earned the dubious title of being the “PBR of Bourbons” by the youth of today — meaning it is cheap yet still worth drinking as long as you do so ironically.

So it was with a “can do” spirit and a healthy surplus of denial that I’m no longer “with it” that I forked over $10 and bought myself 750ml of this Barton brand.

Madam, this is no gentleman. In fact, there were moments while forcing sips down my throat where I wasn’t fully certain how this concoction connected to the greater context of the bourbons I adore. A cursory glance at the back of the bottle revealed the answer: it’s actually 51% straight whiskey and 49% grain neutral spirits, so it leans closer to a blend than actual bourbon. That’s not to say there aren’t traces of bourbon lingering in the glass, because they’re here. Sort of. Hints of caramel and corn are present but only to announce that they’re drowning in a sea of alcohol and thick iced-tea colored silt.

There’s a certain practical joke quality in the misnomer of calling this Kentucky Gentleman — no gentleman from Kentucky with whom I’ve made acquaintance would actively procure and participate in drinking this spirit. And who knows? Maybe that’s the point of it all: to deflect folks from trying the good stuff. If true, that’s one of the few points where “KG” succeeds: to protect against newcomers hell-bent on upping market prices and hoarding limited editions for online trading and selling. In fact, I might just keep this on the shelf and serve it to the next annoying houseguest who asks me if they can try a sip of Pappy Van Winkle.

80 proof.


Kentucky Gentleman Bourbon




Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.


  1. Uncle Bunk on October 14, 2013 at 7:09 am

    At that price point, nothing beats McAfee’s Benchmark No. 8:
    (I can always find it in the $10-$12 range.)

  2. Jason on October 18, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    I believe I had the misfortune of being served this at a hipster/dive bar in Denver when I requested a bourbon-rocks. It was quite the disappointment; an experience I hope to never re-live. I suppose I shall have to request “straight bourbon-rocks” from now on when I find myself in one of these establishments, not that those damn kids would know the difference.

    • Rob Theakston on October 19, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      My initial response was going to paraphrase The Who: the kids are alright, but this bourbon sure isn’t…but that only made me feel older than I really am. I’m okay with my un-hipness, but I just can’t understand why when there are so many good brands within in the same price range.

      What a drag it is getting old.

  3. Steve on January 13, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Bunch of whiskey snobs! The gentleman taste’s better than most I’ve tried…. At least better than Makers!

    • Christopher Null on January 13, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      Whiskey snobs — and proud of it.

  4. Rob Theakston on January 14, 2015 at 5:52 am

    In the words of 20th century maritime philosopher Popeye “I ams what I ams, and that’s all that I ams.”

  5. Vic Hutcheson on June 8, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    I have tried many bourbon/blend types over the years – from Eagle Rare to Old Crow – some better and worse – but overall, KG wins, hands down.

  6. Ray on July 3, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Why drink a blend when Ancient Age whisky and the like are reasonable prices straight bourbon

  7. Pesmergia on March 31, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Wow I’m sitting here drinking some Kentucky Gentleman, and it’s SMOOTH for a liquer. One of the better ones, maybe even top 3. Haven’t drank liquer in about a year, and grabbed 375 ml, was dreading the first chug. Swallowed my first chug, zing, didn’t even need a chaser.

  8. Rich Tice on April 24, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Find it to be Ok for a cheap bourbon, not as good as Early Times or Ancient Age, but drinkable.
    The one thing that bothers me about it is, it’s marketed at volume (1.75 ml) and is actually quite a bit less then stated….
    they should be held accountable for advertised volumes and held responsible for the deciet!!!

  9. xlgmedium on May 26, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Most of us can’t afford Woodford Reserve so Kentucky Gentleman is a great middle shelf. Many of us that drink it enjoy it all ways so raise your glass, cheers.

  10. Mark on October 22, 2016 at 10:59 am

    I’m having a glass of KG at an upscale DC restaurant. Here for a wedding. That’s my alibi. Anyway this was their house bourbon. No way !! Way. A glass is $8. I figured if I asked for a Knob Creek the charge would be $12. So I went with the KG and I’m trying not to prejudge. Not terrible. But not great. I enjoy bourbon’s smokey taste. KG taste is v thin. There’s a hint of smokiness but it never really materializes. Not good.

  11. DAVE on November 23, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    I am not exactly wealthy TO SAY THE LEAST, so to have a bourbon, blended or not, good tasting or not, like this brand, at 14 dollars total for 1.75 ml in my city, is great. We beggars cannot be choosers. The effect of the alcohol, to me is at a slightly higher “must have” level, than the taste – which can be disguised a bit – in my opinion. AND NO, I AM NOT one to merely drink EVERCLEAR to get the effect of alcohol. THAT is like drinking gasoline or the like. All said, what it comes down to is that I just cannot afford to be a booze snob.

  12. Woofie on March 17, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    I just had a Manhattan made with KG (uninformed that it was the well brand), and I was surprised at how good it tasted. Imagine my surprise upon reading several reviews listing it as one of the WORST whiskeys on the market. Now, I’m not planning on buying a bottle to drink straight, but it worked well in a Manhattan.

  13. Danny on April 28, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Kg is for people who want to get drunk without spending alot of money..cmon guys who drinks whiskey. Just for the taste?..all whiskey tastes like does is the only alcoholic drink that actually has real flavor..

    • Richard Bostan on April 28, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      Danny: that is just an astonishingly DUMB comment. There is something wrong with your tongue if you think only wine has “real flavour.”

  14. Larry blankenship on November 22, 2019 at 4:40 pm

    I’m 62 years old have drank a lot of whiskeys in my day from top shelf expensive to bottom shelf cheap I go for taste not name brands and I prefer Kentucky Gentleman my wife drinks Jim Beam to sweet for my taste, Thanks for a good whiskey.

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