Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, according to our editorial policiesinfluenced the final result of this review.
There’s a new senator in town, my friends, but don’t expect him to stay for a full six-year term. the resurrected Kentucky Bourbon Senator the brand released its fourth bottle this summer. This edition, named in honor of John Sherman Cooper, U.S. Senator from Kentucky, uses the same mash bill like the previous versions, with an additional year of aging. The bourbon was distilled and aged in Kentucky and bottled by Bluegrass Distillers of Lexington, KY.
Originally produced by Crigler and Crigler, the Kentucky Senator brand found a temporary home at Double Springs Distillers in Bardstown before being discontinued. Andre Regard and Damon Thayer relaunched the brand in 2019. Regard, an equine entrepreneur and lawyer (a job title I had never heard of but absolutely adore), is originally from Louisiana but his family heritage dates back centuries in Kentucky.
Thayer is a Kentucky State Senator and a two-time recipient of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) 100 Proof Award. He received the Advocacy Group Award in 2018 in recognition of his efforts to “promote and protect” Kentucky’s Bourbon by modernizing liquor laws, encouraging tourism and expanding employment opportunities in the production and sale of spirits. In 2020, after a difficult year for the spirits industry national, he again received the award for its assistance during pandemic-related shutdowns and closures.
Regard and Thayer’s first outing together under the Kentucky Senator brand was a 15-year-old named after Senator Alben W. Barkley. It received praise from Fred Minnick, who named it one of the top 100 whiskeys of 2021. The brand won the Gold ASCOT Award for Taste and a Double Platinum ASCOT Award for Overall Marketing and Brand Design.
This release I am reviewing, the fourth in the series, bears the name of the U.S. Senator from Kentucky, Republican John Sherman Cooper. Senator Cooper served three partial terms and two full terms in the mid-20th century. Born in 1901 into a family heavily involved in politics, he worked in law until he enlisted in the army during World War II at the age of 41 and helped displaced people in areas occupied by the Nazis.
In addition to being a United States Senator, Cooper helped form NATO and served as a delegate to the United Nations. He served on the Warren Commission, having been a close personal friend of President John F. Kennedy. Senator Cooper died in 1991 at the age of 89.
Only 1,000 bottles of this bud have been released and made available at select stores in Kentucky, online, and at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon in DC.
Tasting Notes: Kentucky Senator John Sherman Cooper Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged eight years in new American oak, 53.5% ABV, mash: 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley, MSRP $134.99/750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is a subdued amber color with a lovely rose gold undertone.
Nose: Initially, the bourbon is fruity yet refined with hints of Mission figs and juicy watermelon. Sweet spice and tea notes are also evident, with aromas of black tea, hibiscus and star anise. It reveals aromas of sugar cookies, sea salt caramels, grilled cedar planks and a floral note such as rose hips. Over time, it develops an intriguing and refreshing note like lemongrass. Its malty character begins to show through. It is very pleasant and promising.
Palace: The palate is rich and viscous with a fiery burn. The fruit aromas become more tropical, with hints of pineapple and banana. It’s sweet and malty like amber beer. I always pick up hints of hibiscus tea with buckwheat honey, pink peppercorns and sea salt. There are notes of red liquorice and Italian plums on the finish.
The water helps to cool the ardor. It also brings out notes of cracked black pepper and fruit salad. Seems to be a barrel or so strong, so add ice or water to taste.