Old Hickory Bourbon

Maker: R.S. Lipman, Nashville, Tennesee, USAwpid-oh-straight_thumb1.png

Distiller: MGPI, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, USA

Style: High rye bourbon

Age: NAS (4-7 y/o)

Proof: 86 (43% ABV)

MSRP: $40

Note: I received complementary bottles of this and the blended bourbon from Double Diamond Marketing & Communications.

Appearance: Ruddy copper.

Nose: Spearmint, potpourri, pine.

Palate: Hot on entry. Cinnamon, clove, butterscotch, oak, alcohol.

Finish: Herbal and hot. Lingers for a long time.

Mixed: This is a fantastic mixing bourbon. The strong rye notes complement vermouth perfectly and prevent the low proof from being problematic. Wonderful in a boulevardier and Manhattan. Also good in an old fashioned and in eggnog.

Parting words: Lipman is a small, Nashville-based Non-distiller producer (NDP) that has been around for a couple decades. They purchased the Old Hickory brand in 2013 (for many years the flagship bourbon of Publicker/Continental in Pennsylvania) and resurrected it with the help of our old friends at MGPI. It is currently only available in Tennessee, but is slowly being rolled out around the country. The label doesn’t make a connection with the old brand, other than featuring Old Hickory himself on the label. They are also very open about where they’re getting their stocks from. Good on them for not taking the Michter’s route.

According to Lipman’s promotional materials, this whiskey has a very high proportion of small grains (meaning malt and rye) and it certainly tastes like it. There seems to be an even higher percentage of rye than most high rye MGPI bourbon. Perhaps it was custom distilled. Lipman makes a big deal of how it owns its own stocks of bourbon and thus isn’t just buying this stuff on the bulk market. That should mean a consistent product going forward, more so than most NDP brands. They are planning some more expressions in the future, in addition to the straight and blended bourbons offered now.

This is a weird bourbon. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted one that was like this. It’s so rye heavy that if I were tasting it blind I would probably guess that it was Bulleit Rye, not a bourbon. It took me a while to figure out whether this was good weird or bad weird, but I finally settled on good. At this price, the proof should be higher, but it does ok at 86. Like I said above, the spice makes up for the low proof. Old Hickory Straight Bourbon is recommended, and highly so for cocktails.

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6 thoughts on “Old Hickory Bourbon

  1. As a straight pour or a mixer, I’m left wondering why I should pay nearly twice as much for “weird” OH as I would for Ritt or WT Rye 101.

    1. I don’t like either of those ryes plus WTR 101 is $36 for a liter here so I can’t speak to that objection directly. I think being unique is worth a little extra money. I also think that quality ingredients can make a big difference in a cocktail. The drinks I made with this were really really good even with middle shelf mixers. That said, I wouldn’t pay a dime over $40.

  2. Did the marketer provide the approximate 4-7 years of age or is that speculation on your part? I rarely believe that anyone is truly making their own mashbill at a place as large as MGPI no matter what they claim so if it is indeed “high rye” that suggests the usual 36% rye MGPI mashbill unless they are not telling the truth on their label (not that the TTB would ever let anything incorrect slip through…) and are blending mashbills in some manner.

    1. That’s from the marketing materials I was sent along with their website iirc.

      Regarding the mashbill, I am inclined to agree with you, but it doesn’t taste like any of the standard MGPI high rye bourbons I’ve had. It’s very rye-like. The other possibility is that they blended some rye with a high corn bourbon and just called it bourbon, like that 4 Kings business. I’m inclined to belive they are being accurate unless presented with information to the contrary.

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