I have had this bottle since it was gifted to me in the mid-1990s. It was at the time a brand found mainly in the St. Louis market and not available in Kentucky. Heaven Hill made this whiskey under the DBA (Doing Business As) of The Old 1889 Distillery Co., Bardstown, Ky. This whiskey was made at the Bardstown Heaven Hill Distillery before the 1996 fire that destroyed the distillery.
It is a common practice for distilleries to use DBA designation with products. This practice has been around since the 19th century. When they were making whiskey for a rectifier without a distillery, or another distillery who needed additional whiskey, they would fill out some paperwork with the government gauger and call the distillery “The ____ (fill in name of customer) Distillery” for the time that they were making the contracted whiskey.
The practice today is more common for a distillery who had purchased a brand but not the distillery. For example, there is no Old Grand Dad Distillery, the whiskey is made at Jim Beam, but the label will read “Distilled and Bottled by the Old Grand Dad Distillery Company, Clermont, Ky.” – a DBA for Jim Beam, just as Old 1889 Distillery Co. is a DBA for Heaven Hill. The on-site government gauger is gone from the distillery today, and I am not up on the present day regulations, so the distillery may simply fill out some paperwork for their DBA brands when they bottle them now, but it is the same principle followed the distillers of the 19th century.
Old 1889 Royal Bourbon
Age: 12 Years Old
Nose: Fairly simple nose of caramel, peach fruit, a little ginger spice, leather and oak wood.
Taste: I can tell this was made at Heaven Hill, Bardstown. When the whiskey is over six years old, I start tasting a rotten peach note. I know other people who get the same note from older Elijah Craig whiskey from Heaven hill, Bardstown, but not everyone does. It is something genetic like people who taste soap when they eat cilantro. That rotten peach flavor is in this whiskey, but only lightly compared to what I have tasted in other whiskeys from that distillery. Caramel and oak are all I get out of the whiskey other than the rotten peach. When tasted with a dried cranberry, the rotten peach actually goes away and a little chocolate comes out. When tasted with a pecan the whiskey becomes minty.
Finish: Long, dry and peppery. The dried cranberry makes the finish shorter and sweeter with some lingering caramel notes and oak. The pecan adds a mint note to the finish.
I am pairing this Bourbon with a Nat Sherman Panamerica Gordo cigar. This cigar has a smoke that is sweet earthy tobacco with a touch of vanilla and caramel and a hint of dried fruit like prunes or apricots. The Bourbon added some spiciness to the smoke, but sweet spices like ginger or nutmeg, rather than pepper. The smoke made the finish of the Bourbon very peppery but more of a floral white pepper than a black pepper spice. Not a bad pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller