CHICKEN COCK STRAIGHT BOURBON

I love an interesting story. Chicken Cock Bourbon has an interesting story equal of its name.

An Old Brand with a Funny Name

Chicken Cock bourbon dates back to 1856, when it was first distilled in Paris, Kentucky. The brand grew in popularity and was at its peak when it was selected as the house whiskey at the Harlem-based Cotton Club in the 1930’s. Home to jazz greats Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie, Chicken Cock was called the “Whiskey in a Tin Can” as it was smuggled in tin cans to avoid the authorities.

A distillery fire in the 1950’s ended the popular speakeasy brand. Several attempts were made at bringing the brand back to the mainstream. In 2013, Grain & Barrel resurrected the brand and sales began again. Early renditions utilized sourced bourbon from Indiana. In September 2018, the Bardstown Bourbon Company announced that Grain & Barrel had joined its Collaborative Distilling Program to custom produce the bourbon for the historic Chicken Cock Brand.

The Tasting

Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is bottled at 90 proof. There is no age statement on the great-looking replica Prohibition-era bottle, though straight whiskey would indicate it is at least two-years in age. The finished product is a blend of bourbons from two mash bills: one that is 78% corn, 12% rye, and 10% malted barley; the other is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley.

From the website, we’re told to expect “a rich, elegant mahogany hue; a nose which balances oak tones with sweet notes of dried fruit, caramel, and vanilla; and a palate that opens with soft tannins. A creamy, almost buttery mouthfeel is complemented by butterscotch notes and toasted oak, resolving with a vanilla finish.

Color: For a younger spirit, this has a lovely amber color and exhibits long legs on the sides of my Glencairn glass.

Nose: Bright vanilla and caramel scents are forward along with sweet apple.

Palate: Smooth with vanilla, butterscotch and oaky notes. A few drops of water really open up a buttery feel.

Finish: A surprisingly medium-to-long finish led by dried oak and peppercorn spice

Overall: I was able to find this bourbon at a big-box regional liquor store for about $48. Prior releases (including some 8-year-old versions) had been an Indiana product that was aged in Bardstown. This release was all Kentucky, through and through. While it’s not overly complex, it is a great story with a great name that has been re-born. I look forward to the days when Grain and Barrel are able to offer some older bourbons as well and see how they write a new chapter to the Chicken Cock story.

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