If you hopped in a time machine and set it for 1856, you'd stumble on a brand new whiskey called Chicken Cock. Distilled in Paris, Kentucky, it had a rich history. Fast forward about 64 years, and you'd find Chicken Cock in speakeasies around the country during Prohibition, including the famous Cotton Club in Harlem.
“During the prohibition period, you could always buy good whiskey from somebody in the Cotton Club. They used to have what they called Chicken Cock. It was a bottle in a can, and the can was sealed. It cost something like ten to fourteen dollars a pint.” - Duke Ellington
Then, in the 1950s, the distillery in Paris burned down, and the brand vanished into history. That is until it was resurrected in 2011 by Matti Anttila while he was researching older distilleries and he purchased the rights to the brand. His company, Grain & Barrel Spirits, entered into a collaborative distilling agreement with Bardstown Bourbon Company in 2017.
The 13-year-old boy in me just adores the name. It is the holy grail of immature jokes. Will the mature (yeah, right) adult in me feel the same about the whiskies behind it? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious.
Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Grain & Barrel Spirits for providing samples in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest reviews.
First up is Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Rye.
Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Rye starts with a mash of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. It then rests for at least two years. Non-chill-filtered, it is diluted to 90° and has a suggested retail price of $69.99 for a 750ml bottle.
You may be wondering why the bottle is empty. Well, there was an accident during shipping, and while the bottle didn't break, it did crack and leak (but thankfully, not that much). I had to transfer the remainder to a decanter. This, of course, has no bearing at all on my rating.
Appearance: In my Glencairn glass, Chicken Cock presented as an unmistakable orange amber color. It produced a thinner rim, but with amazingly long, thick legs that fell back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: I found Chicken Cock to be aromatic as it was oxidizing in my glass. The spearmint was obvious, but it was joined by citrus and root beer. When I inhaled through my lips, the root beer continued.
Palate: The mouthfeel comprised of a medium body and was warming. On the front, unsweetened tea dominated, along with undertones of rye spice. At mid-palate, I tasted dill, honey, and spearmint. Then, on the back, flavors of grapefruit and tobacco leaf competed with each other.
Finish: The more I sipped, the longer the finish became. Overall, it wound up as what I'd describe as medium-long. Sweet tobacco leaf, cinnamon, mint, and grapefruit carried all the way through.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Strangely enough, I encountered no wood notes while tasting Chicken Cock Rye. Unfortunately, unsweetened tea and grapefruit are not my favorite flavors. I'm a fan of young Ryes, and Chicken Cock was far more mellow than others. It lacked any sharp notes, and, again, there was that lack of wood. Someone who wants to pour a less-spicy Rye may find Chicken Cock desirable. My concern is with the price. The market is crowded with more mature Ryes for $70.00 or less. Chicken Cock isn't doing anything, in particular, to stand out and convince me to buy it. As such, I believe this one deserves a Bar rating. You'll want to try this one first before committing to a purchase.
Next up is Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a blend of two mashbills. The first is 78% corn, 12% rye, and 10% malted barley. The second, older mash is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. Non-chill-filtered, it is bottled at 90° and has a suggested retail price of $59.99 for a 750ml. It carries no age statement, but we can assume since it is straight, it is at least two years old, and because there's no age statement, it is at least four.
Appearance: The Bourbon was the color of dull gold. It created a thick rim that didn't hold the weight of the heavy, fast legs which crashed back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: If bananas are your thing, you're going to love the nose on Chicken Cock Bourbon. The aroma was unmistakable. But, vanilla, corn, cherry, and plum weren't hidden, either. There was also an earthy quality that I couldn't quite nail down. When I drew the vapor into my mouth, the banana continued.
Palate: A light, creamy mouthfeel greeted me as I took my first sip. The front of my palate tasted caramel and corn. In the middle, it was butterscotch and apple. Oak, caramel and black pepper constructed the back.
Finish: A medium-long finish started with caramel-coated apple, oak, and black pepper.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: This Bourbon is a very easy sipper. Nothing on the palate stole the show, and while there aren't a lot of notes, it seems to make sense. There is, however, nothing that particularly screams for attention. I would love to revisit this after a few more years in wood. Like the Rye, this Bourbon will get lost at its current price point. The Bar rating seems best for Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It