Kentucky Par is the end result of a couple of guys having dinner one evening and one of them pulling out an old bottle he found in his father’s desk drawer. He tells his friend it is a bottle of whiskey that his grandfather bottled at the end of Prohibition – Kentucky Par. His grandparents owned the Kentucky Parfait Company that made soft drinks before Prohibition and the family decided to enter the liquor business with repeal. They sourced several barrels of whiskey from the Bernheim Distillery to bottle. The name comes from his grandmother who suggested that they simply shorten Parfait to Par and call it Kentucky Par. They were successful and owned the brand for several decades before selling it to National Distillers.
David Gibbs, the guest at the dinner, said it would be fun to bring the old brand back. The grandson, Cy Radford, said “let’s do it”. They had another friend who is a lawyer who was interested in joining them in the venture and the brand was reborn. They sourced some whiskey barrels, recreated the label and started selling the whiskey. The world needs more people with this idea of fun.
The whiskey they chose is a 12 year old Bourbon made in Kentucky. They have a non-disclosure agreement and don’t say where the barrels of whiskey are made, but I detect a leather note that I always detect in Very Old Barton. The bottle and label are similar to the bottles the family used in the 1930s, but the label art is not as complex. I think they should bring back some of the fancy script used on the original label.
Kentucky Par Bourbon
Age: 12 Years Old
Nose: Caramel, oak, ripe apples, fine leather, a hint of chocolate and a little baking spice.
Taste: Not overly complex. Rich caramel, a little apple or pear fruit, leather and baking spices with oak tannins. When tasted with a dried cranberry, the caramel becomes stronger and the leather more pronounced. When tasted with a pecan, the spices becomes black pepper at the expense of the fruit and caramel. They are still there but in the background.
Finish: Long and dry with lots of oak and a hint of baking spices, mostly cinnamon and nutmeg. The dried cranberry replaced the hint of spice with leather and sweetened the oak tannins. The pecan made the finish longer and was dominated by black pepper spice and oak tannins.I am pairing this Bourbon with a Liga Undercrown Maduro Robusto cigar. I find the smoke full of earthy flavors of rich tobacco and hay with some sweet vanilla and cedar spice. The Bourbon brings out additional vanilla notes and even a hint of caramel or chocolate. The smoke enhances the oak and makes the spice a white pepper in the Bourbon. It is a good pairing for an evening on the porch while watching the rain fall.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller