Vintage Rye 23 y/o

Maker: Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, Bardstown Kentucky, USAvintage 23

Distiller: ???

Age: 23 y/o

Proof: 94 (47% ABV)

Thanks to: Oscar for this sample

Appearance: Dark Auburn

Nose: Wood varnish, oak, peanut brittle, slightly musty, an elusive fruity note: sometimes purple Kool-Aid and sometimes orange Tang.

On the palate: Soft mouth feel. Toffee, butterscotch, oak, alcohol, clove.

Finish: Very dry, old oak, some alcohol and a touch of sweetness.

Parting words: I make no secret of my dislike of old American whiskeys. When even my beloved Four Roses distillery came out with a 17 year old bourbon a couple years ago I was not impressed. The Elijah Craig 18 y/o bourbons I have tasted and enjoyed are few and far between. KBD’s Vintage series of bourbons and ryes are all old whiskeys but have the advantage of being relatively affordable. The downside is that, if KBD got a hold of it, there’s a good chance the distillers didn’t think it was good enough to release under one of their own labels or even blend it into something else. Such is the risk of buying old whiskey from non-distiller producers.

So when Oscar gave me the sample I was skeptical. My skepticism proved to be largely unwarranted. This rye is very drinkable. I’ve had 20 y/o bourbons (from distillery-owned labels) that were not nearly as easy to drink as this. That said, Vintage 23 falls into the curiosity or vatting whiskey category for me. It’s something I might buy one bottle for to use for a tasting or to bring out when whiskey friends are over. Too woody and old to be a classic but interesting enough to warrant some interest. Vintage Rye 23 y/o is recommended.

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  1. #1 by Oscar V Hightower on December 19, 2012 - 7:05 pm

    The barrel strength from this same family of 23yo Rye is truley a classic.
    There were a a few lucky people to get some bottled for them and I have had a taste or two and I have to say that in barrel strength it is one of the best whiskies I have ever had.

    • #2 by Josh on December 20, 2012 - 12:07 pm

      Your tastes seem to be moving to the woodier side of the street O! Wish I had the chance to try some of that.

      • #3 by Oscar V Hightower on December 20, 2012 - 6:17 pm

        The next time you are at DougDog’s ask for a sip of his Willet 23yo Rye Barrel Strength, it will make you cry it’s so good.
        It’s from the same “family” as this Vintage Rye 23.

  2. #4 by bargainbourbon on December 20, 2012 - 10:03 am

    The few older American whiskeys that seem to live up to their hype for me are Stagg and Sazerac 18. Outside of that, I am usually inclined to agree with you. You end up with overpriced, overwooded whiskey. That is definitely how I felt about the latest batch of Jefferson’s 18 Presidential Select (batch 14).

    • #5 by Josh on December 20, 2012 - 12:09 pm

      I had the chance to taste some of what was basically Jefferson’s 18 or 19 right out of the barrel earlier this year and while it had a great nose, it failed to deliver on the palate. Much too woody and way too much char. Definately over the hill!

  3. #6 by White Dog on December 20, 2012 - 8:02 pm

    Come on, Brother Josh. Stop simply referring to “American Whiskey.” For Rye-recipe Bourbon, 6 to 12yrs. For Wheaters, 10 to 18 works for me. But when it comes to American Rye I’m a size queen, because baby I can’t get enough wood. From Saz 18, to Vintage 21, to Ritt 23, to Hirsh 22, bring it on!

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