Cream of Kentucky is an old brand recently revived by Jim Rutledge. The brand was first registered by the Chicago firm of Benzli & Zahn Co. in 1889. Schenley acquired the brand and bottled it after Prohibition. It was one of those brands that was made at multiple distilleries owned by Schenley, including the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville and the Geo. T. Stagg Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Schenley made both Rye and Bourbon for this brand. It was considered a brand for the middle range of products in their portfolio. They did advertised it but it never had the emphasis placed on it that brands like I.W. Harper or Old Charter received.
The brand was discontinued in the late 1970s and the whiskey remaining in the warehouse for Cream of Kentucky was either put into other brands, mixed into blended whiskey or sold in the bulk market. There was still many barrels of the rye in the warehouses in the 1990s and United Distillers sold some barrels to several people bottling rye whiskey in the 1990s. The Bourbon was used in support of the brands I.W. Harper and Old Charter.
After Jim Rutledge retired from Four Roses, he did what many other people who made their career in the industry do after retiring – get back in the industry by purchasing some bulk whiskey and creating a brand. In this case Rutledge revived the Cream of Kentucky label. It is good to see the re-birth of a fine old brand.
Cream of Kentucky Bourbon
Age: 11 ½ years
Nose: Caramel apples and oak with just a hint of rich vanilla.
Taste: Caramel and green apple – almost like an apple Jolly Rancher candy, with some baking spices and oak. When tasted with a dried cranberry, a bit of chocolate comes out with a little more intense oak wood. When tasted with a pecan, citrus fruit is brought out and the spice is definitely a cinnamon spice.
Finish: Medium long with oak and baking spices. The cranberry shortened the finish but intensified the oak tannins making it very dry. The pecan gave the finish a very spicy cinnamon and oak flavor.
I have chosen an A. Fuente Anejo Reserva Xtra Viejo cigar to pair with this Bourbon. I find the smoke has a little mocha coffee and rich tobacco with some cedar spiciness that I think will pair well with the caramel and fruit of the Bourbon. I found that the Bourbon made the smoke more vanilla and coffee rather than mocha. The smoke gave the Bourbon an enhanced green apple that lasted well into the finish. Not a bad pairing but I think I will try a lighter cigar the next time.