King of Kentucky returns just in time for the beginning of Big Bourbon Season (aka “autumn”) and like its 2019 sibling, arrives aged 15 years. The mashbill remains the same (79% corn, 11% rye and 10% malted barley), but the good news is they’ve increased the output from 2700 bottles in 2021 to 3500 this year.
Coming in absolutely scorching from the bottle to glass with no dilution, there is quite a bit of alcohol to burn off on the nose before things get interesting. With a bit of rest, a giant burst of molasses and turbinado sugar gives way to dried orange peel and honey. A few drops of water reveal cherry lurking underneath. Without water, the palate presents much of what is advertised on the nose with those notes of molasses and turbinado sugar leading the charge toward hazelnut and almond towards the finish. Once again water brings out the complexity of this big and burly bottle, with more spice, caramel, and praline coming to the forefront, with the baking spice elements getting relief.
There are many splendid offerings in the Brown-Forman catalog, but this is one of its consistent pinnacles. Fans of previous years will not find any fault in this edition, and people on the hunt will undoubtedly enjoy the spoils of victory. Curiosity seekers venturing into higher-proof territories for the first time would be well served with a few drops (not many) to cut things down and give the entire experience a much more tempered approach. Well-seasoned travelers may use water at their discretion.
As with all Kings of Kentucky thus far, this will have limited availability with an incredibly scarce allocation. A variant on this year’s King of Kentucky will also arrive as an 18-year-old offering exclusive to Kentucky in an edition of 250 bottles and a suggested price tag of $350. No word on how it fares by way of comparison.
130.6 proof as reviewed. Barrel number 14 was submitted for review consideration.
A / $250 / brown-forman.com