In recent years, whiskey brands like Uncle Nearest have helped to highlight the important role African Americans have played in the long history of American whiskey production. With its latest release, The Untold Story of Kentucky Whiskey, Chapter 1, Castle & Key Distillery is doing its part to honor that history and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. But they are also going one step further, as proceeds from the whiskey will be used entirely to fund a scholarship for future distillers of color. And this isn’t just a one-time deal. Released in partnership with the Kentucky Black Bourbon Guild, the whiskey will return each year for another “chapter” with each release telling another story about the contribution of African Americans to the spirits industry. Per Castle & Key:
“As distillers and admirers of American whiskey, it is our responsibility to share the history of how the spirit came to be,” says Will Arvin, Co-Founder of Castle & Key. “We are honored to have partnered with the Kentucky Black Bourbon Guild to amplify these untold stories and to launch this important scholarship fund. Our hope is to amplify the diverse history of our industry and to support a more equitable future for prospective distillers.”
“With this program we hope to inspire a new generation of distillers and to challenge the conventions of the past,” says Jonathan Newton, Director of Sales. “We hope to incorporate more of this historical narrative into the experience at Castle & Key, and we hope that this initiative inspires more of this important work throughout the industry.”
The Untold Story is a blend of straight whiskeys (reportedly only two barrels) aged 4.5 years. It includes Castle & Key’s rye whiskey and their very first bourbon, which is made from a mashbill of 73% white corn, 10% rye, and 17% malted barley. Let’s check it out.
The nose shows plenty of rye elements with a bright, peppery spice, dry grasses, and Bit-O-Honey candies. As it opens in the glass, notes of corn emerge, creamed and buttery, with a bit of peanut brittle and a sweet, mildly tart hint of fresh-squeezed lemonade. The palate is delicate but showcases a honeyed sweetness and a gentle, warming heat. Notes of candy apple, clover honey, and more peanut brittle meld into a medium-length finish of toasted oak and cinnamon candies. As first “chapters” go, this one shows a lot of promise.
B+ / $150 / castleandkey.com