I’m back. Not that you necessarily noticed I was missing, but I took a short sabbatical from reviewing and posting about bourbon (don’t worry, I took no sabbatical from drinking it!) to take care of some things and recharge. And I’m glad to say I’ve come out the other side refreshed, recharged and ready to go! In the summer months ahead, I have a ton of whiskies to review, ballparks to cover and other fun reads to post. So on with the show.
I certainly hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend – I certainly did, with a trip to see friends and family get married in St. Louis and New York City, respectively. Not only were my journeys an opportunity for my wife and I to spend time with many great people we do not see enough – it was also an opportunity to pick up and try some tasty regional bourbons. That’s where we start today – with Brooklyn’s own Kings County Distillery Bourbon.
Kings County Distillery has been on the scene for a little while now. Founded in 2010 in a building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Kings County Distillery is the definition of artisan distilling. They do not and have never sourced their liquor, distilling and aging it on site. Even the grains come from a nearby Brooklyn farm, and their pride in sustainable, local distilling is strong.
I first became aware of Kings County this year at the Bourbon Classic, where Master Blender Nicole Austin joined a host of bourbon and whiskey legends for the panel discussions and tastings. Unfortunately for me, the Kings County booth proved so popular that I never got a chance to make my way up for a sample. No mind, I was in NYC and it seemed an ample opportunity to check it out.
I had hoped to give the distillery a tour – and will make a point to in the future – but on this trip time was tight, so I used the distillery’s handy site and found a store right by our hotel where I could purchase a bottle. (As a note, if you are in NYC and looking for a fantastic collection of whiskey, check out Bowery and Vine if you haven’t already. Great selection, and fun service.) Bottle gotten, and back home – time for a tasting.
Dan’s take: First thing first, I do love the packaging. A hip flask bottle befitting a local distillery with a throwback touch. I do wish I was able to pick up a fifth, as a pint or half-pint were the only choices available. That said, it’s a pricey pour at $45 a pint, so my wallet is happy for the smaller size.
The color was a rich amber, not so young as to give away the relatively young age (anywhere from 1-4 years). Kings County makes their bourbon from NY corn and UK barley – they don’t mention rye – and the nose is very strong of the sweet corn smell. There is an almost perfume-like note as well, like dried raisin and honey. It took a few minutes to fully open (it is 90 proof), and when it did, the corn was most present.
The mouth feel was thick and slick, with a viscosity I also didn’t expect. It was soft, and buttery, and made for a most enjoyable sip. Admittedly, it tasted young, and not as sweet as the nose, but very smooth. Hints of cinnamon and light caramel presented, but I didn’t note any vanilla or maple. There was no bitterness to speak of, and the corn sweetness carried it through to the finish. Again, cinnamon was obvious in the finish, but it would not be unfair to say that the smoothness, rather than any particular flavor, was the primary observation. The finish was relatively short, without a real burn.
Blind tasting it, I may have known it was young, but how young I wouldn’t have suspected. It does not have the complexity of an 8/10/12 year pour, but does have a sweet smooth finish rarely found in something so new. Overall, I was impressed. This is a nice bourbon, distinctly…well, Brooklyn!
Dan’s take: 8.3
(Don’t worry, more NYC songs are coming with future reviews!)