The J. K. Williams Distillery is located in Peoria, Illinois, a city with a rich distilling heritage. The 1910 Mida’s Financial Index shows that the city had four distilleries and eleven rectifying companies within its city limits. After Prohibition ended, Hiram Walker built a huge distillery in Peoria and created the brand Ten High from the Bourbon distilled there. It is only fitting that the distilling industry return to Peoria.
The J. K. Williams Distillery has been operating in the city long enough to now offer four year old whiskeys – Gold Zephyr Straight Bourbon and Stormy River Rye. I was lucky enough to have sample bottles of each of these whiskeys sent to me and Matt and I sat down to review them. We were both impressed with the quality of these whiskeys. However, we both asked why they did not label the rye as a straight whiskey.
Gold Zephyr Straight Bourbon
Age: Four Years Old
- Mike: Chocolate, a little sweet corn and vanilla, apricots and peaches with a hint of oak.
- Matt: Caramel. Milk chocolate and oranges – like a Christmas orange and chocolate candy.
- Mike: Vanilla and peaches, corn with a little pepper, some milk chocolate and oak. Tasted with the dried cranberry and the chocolate comes forward at the expense of the fruit. Tasted with a pecan and the oak and pepper come forward, once again, at the expense of the fruit flavors.
- Matt: Milk chocolate, orange citrus, allspice and a hint of oak. Tasted with the dried cranberry enhanced the milk chocolate and the orange. Tasted with the pecan and a salted caramel note comes out with more oak and a hint of nutmeg spice.
- Mike: Medium long with a chocolate and oak sweetness. The dried cranberry brought the fruit out in the finish with a ripe peach and oak sweetness. The pecan made the finish longer with chocolate and oak.
- Matt: A short finish with orange citrus and spice. The dried cranberry brought out a little oak. The pecan made the finish creamy with oak and milk chocolate.
Stormy River Rye
Age: Four Years Old
- Mike: Ripe peaches, rye grass, vanilla and oak. Reminds me of the George Washington Rye from the distillery at Mount Vernon.
- Matt: Rye grass, peaches, caramel and a hint of ginger. Very similar to the George Washington Rye.
- Mike: Peaches, vanilla, allspice and cardamom, and sweet oak wood. Tasted with the dried cranberry and the peaches and vanilla are enhanced. Tasted with a pecan and a caramelized peach jam, chocolate and a hint of baking spice come forward.
- Matt: Peaches, chocolate and oak. Tasted with the dried cranberry and the rye grass comes out with a very creamy latte coffee flavor. Tasted with a pecan and nutmeg and vanilla bean notes come forward.
- Mike: Sweet oak and peaches with a hint of baking spices. The dried cranberry makes the finish a little sweeter with enhanced vanilla notes. The pecan brought forward the chocolate and baking spices in the finish.
- Matt: Oak and white pepper. Medium long and pleasant. The dried cranberry did not change the finish much with only a little stronger pepper flavor. The pecan made the finish very spicy with lots of floral white pepper.
I would pair these two whiskeys with a cigar that has some cedar spice, but also a lot of vanilla and chocolate notes in the smoke. A Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial comes to mind.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller