Kentucky Vintage Bourbon

74 Avoid

If bitterness, menthol, and vegetation is your go-to flavor profile, this is your sipper. If not, look for any of the hundreds of other options in this price range and you'll find a much more rounded and enjoyable bourbon.

Vital Stats
◾Distiller: Unknown, Producer: KBD/Willett
◾ABV: 45% (90°)
◾Price Paid: $35
◾Age: No Age Statement
◾Batch: 13-86

Kentucky Vintage 1What it is:

Kentucky Vintage is a label bottled by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, parent company of Willett, as par of their Small Batch Boutique Bourbon collection.  It is not age stated, and the actual distiller is not listed on the label. Since the Willett distillery has only been in operation for just over two years, it’s easy to deduce that this is a sourced bourbon.  However, the Willett distillery identification number is listed on the label, making this no doubt confusing for the novice bourbon drinker, and somewhat disingenuous from KBD.  It is not age stated, though it states that it was aged “many long years” and it is made in “extremely limited quantities,” whatever that means.  It is bottled at 45% ABV, which comes out to 90 proof.


Kentucky Vintage 5 screw topThis is bottled in an attractive barrel-shaped bottle with a wax seal just above a parchment-paper label.  The top is wax-sealed.  It is perhaps the best packaged of the Small Batch Boutique Bourbon Line based on appearance.  Then you open it.  It’s a screw top beneath that wax.  Okay, a screw top is actually a good way to store bourbon, but it seems cheap.


Appearance:Kentucky Vintage 8

Kentucky Vintage pours a deep russet with amber tones into a Glencairn Glass.  Very attractive.


This is where it begins to fall apart.  There’s some heavy bitter oak on the first sniff, then a weird mintiness seeps in with almonds as a near afterthought.   Now, there are good mint aromas, like spearmint, and there are bad mint aromas… like menthol.  This is menthol.


There is a slight sweet toffee note on the tip of the tongue, with a heavy dose of oak, but the flavor disappears on the mid palate to re-emerge on the back of the tongue in the form of an astringent bitterness that seems like a combination of pine needles, mouth wash, and menthol.


Only short-to-medium in length, thank goodness.  Any longer would have been torture to my taste buds.  A dry cardboard-tinged hint of oak begins the finish, with straw, hay, and strong vegetal qualities rounding it out with bitter arugula and beets.


This is a not a good bourbon.  The bitter notes are not good bitter notes- they’re off-putting.  To calm that, I tried adding water, and to my chagrin, it only deadened the toffee and oak flavors to emphasize the bitterness. I don’t remember what I originally paid far this bottle over a year ago, likely in the $30 range, but I wouldn’t pay for it again.  This one misses the mark in a big way.  Avoid. score: 74 out of 100 points.

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About Author

Bill is the Co-Founder, Editor-in Chief, and official Bourbon-o-Phile for, and Founder and Chief Blending Officer for Four Gate Whiskey Company. He is a native of Louisville, KY in the heart of Bourbon Country. He attended the University of Kentucky in the mid to late 1990s. He has also been published on He has conducted various bourbon and whiskey tastings in cities across the country, and consulted for multiple national labels. He is married with two daughters, and lives in east Louisville. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BillStraub and email him at

1 Comment

  1. Wow, I respect your opinion but I totally
    disagree with your your taste buds. Maybe
    you should revisit this bottle. This has to b-
    one of the most underrated hard to find
    whiskeys on the market. No pine needles
    menthol for me. A classic whiskey with a
    great toffee, caramel, vanilla, Greatness.

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