For the First Time, King of Kentucky Will See Distribution Outside KY

King of Kentucky 2020. Brown-Forman.

Brown-Forman’s acclaimed annual King of Kentucky release will be arriving soon, and for the first time in it’s three year run, it will be heading to shelves outside its home state.

The heritage label dates back to the 1881, first purchased by Brown-Forman in 1936 and reintroduced in 2018 as a single barrel, cask strength expression. This year’s release will consist of just 37 barrels of Kentucky Straight Bourbon aged 14 years, presented uncut and non-chill filtered with bottling proofs ranging from 125-135.

“Given Brown-Forman’s 150-year history of crafting great Kentucky bourbon, it is a memorable event to bring back to life a long-retired brand and to introduce it to a new generation of aficionados,” said Chris Morris, Brown-Forman master distiller in a press release. “King of Kentucky will provide whiskey connoisseurs with a rare look into Brown-Forman’s rich barrel archives.”

“The King of Kentucky continues to teach us about the impact that long-term heat-cycled maturation has on barrel yield and flavor presentation,” continued Morris. “Some barrels yield as little as one case of King but are not over wooded or astringent — in fact they are incredibly complex and flavorful. This is another stellar release of rich, dark Kentucky bourbon flavor at its best.”

Tasting notes from the distillery describe a “nose of dried cherry, graham cracker and vanilla bean, with a cotton candy and dark maple syrup sweetness, a hint of caramelized orange peel and a pinch of mint,” and a palate with “dark caramel and maple syrup with a layer of dark baking spices and cured tobacco herbal notes served alongside vanilla ice cream topped deep dish cherry cobbler.”

Only 1,900 bottles of this rare release will start appearing this month, mainly in Kentucky with some distribution to Ohio and Illinois, for a suggested retail price of around $250.

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.