Cream of Kentucky Straight Bourbon & Two New Rye Whiskies

While the ocean-matured Irish single malt from Glendalough Distillery is still months from bottling—if it’s successfully rescued, that is—there are new whiskies ready right now.

Jim Rutledge, who was formerly master distiller at Four Roses, has come out of retirement to open a new distillery and launch new whiskeys. While that project, called J.W. Rutledge Distillery, is in the works, he’s reviving the historic Cream of Kentucky brand using sourced whiskey. The 51% ABV, 11 ½ year old straight bourbon is available now in a handful of states for $150.

Virginia’s Copper Fox Distillery is relaunching its packaging and debuting a new whiskey. Copper Fox Sassy single malt rye is made from 100% malted rye and aged in ex-bourbon barrels with new and used oak and apple wood chips. It’s bottled at 45% ABV and widely available for $57.

Finally, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers of Ontario is bringing its Three Oaks rye to the U.S. for the first time. The 43% ABV whisky is made with 100% Ontario-grown rye and aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, new American oak, and new Ontario oak casks. It’s hitting shelves at around $49 in California, Florida, and New York starting in March.

Read on for full details.

Cream of Kentucky

Style: Straight bourbon
Origin: Kentucky
Age: 11 ½ years old
Proof: 51% ABV
Price: $150
Release: Winter 2019
Availability: 9,000 bottles in CA, CO, KY, IL, IN, MA, MD, and Washington, D.C.

Need to know:

Former Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge plans to open a new distillery, reviving the historic Cream of Kentucky bourbon brand as one of its whiskeys. As the plans are still in development, he is bottling this 11 ½ year old straight bourbon, sourced from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. Of the 9,000 bottles released, Rutledge signed 12 and slipped them into cases being shipped out to several states—a nice “golden ticket” touch for this limited release.

Cream of Kentucky was created in the 1880s by I. Traeger & Co. of Cincinnati—yes, an Ohio distiller branded its whiskey with the state of Kentucky. The whiskey was likely sourced from Kentucky, however. After Prohibition, the brand was re-introduced by Schenley, one of the largest whiskey companies in the country at that time, and grew to prominence in the 1930s and ’40s. Eventually, it declined in popularity and became a blended whiskey. The brand itself was discontinued at some point, most likely in the in the 1980s, and by 1996, the trademark was abandoned.

Whisky Advocate says:

Rutledge and his partners plan to open the J.W. Rutledge Distillery in Oldham County, Kentucky this year. In addition to Cream of Kentucky, Rutledge will produce other whiskeys under the J.W. Rutledge name. The facility will also offer contract distillation to other whiskey brands, with Rutledge overseeing all production, as well as contract warehousing.

Copper Fox Sassy Single Malt Rye

Style: Whiskey distilled from rye mash
Origin: Virginia
Age: Not stated
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $57
Release: January 2019
Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

Double-distilled in pot stills from 100% malted rye, this whiskey was aged in used bourbon barrels with new and used applewood and oak chips inside the barrels, then finished in additional used bourbon barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Because it’s aged in used barrels, this whiskey can’t be considered a rye—only new charred oak barrels can be used for that designation. Instead, this is whiskey distilled from a rye mash—in this case, 100% malted rye, a detail that has led Copper Fox to designate it as a single malt rye whiskey. (“Single malt” isn’t a regulated whiskey style in the U.S., by the way.)

Along with this new whiskey, Copper Fox—which has two distilleries in Virginia, in Sperryville and Williamsburg—is rolling out new packaging and branding across its range. Its single malt whiskey (made with malted barley, not rye), formerly called Wasmund’s, will now be known as Copper Fox Original Single Malt.

Dillon's Three Oaks Rye

Style: Canadian rye
Origin: Canada (Ontario)
Age: Not stated
Proof: 43% ABV
Price: $48-$50
Release: Available in Canada; U.S. release March 2019
Availability: Roughly 3,400 bottles in CA, FL, and NY

Need to know:

Currently available in Canada, Three Oaks Rye is making its U.S. debut in March. The whisky was pot-distilled in 2013 and 2014 from 100% Ontario rye and aged in a combination of ex-bourbon, new American oak, and new Ontario oak casks. Ten casks are being dumped and blended for this release, yielding around 3,400 bottles.

Whisky Advocate says:

Dillon’s Three Oaks has been available in Canada for a while, but in 500-ml. bottles. Since that isn’t a legal size for spirits in the U.S., we will be getting 750-ml. bottles instead. Look for a review of Dillon’s Three Oaks rye in the Spring issue, coming out in March!

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