The American whiskey blogosphere has been abuzz with word that Campari, the Italian drinks conglomerate that owns of Wild Turkey, would be starting a line of not-Wild Turkey whiskeys. Now Campari is poised to release the first two whiskeys in the line, dubbed Whiskey Barons, entitled Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard. The theme for Whiskey Barons is the revival of defunct brands, as well as the restoration of some Bourbon heritage. Part of the proceeds from Whiskey Barons sales will go to the restoration of the T.B. Ripy House, one of the Wild Turkey Distillery’s neighbors in Anderson County, Kentucky. T.B. Ripy was a late 19th Century Bourbon tycoon, and his mansion is locally known as “the house that Bourbon built.” Descendants of Ripy reacquired the house in 2010 with the intent of restoring it as a tourist destination, but renovation efforts reportedly stalled in 2014. As the name might imply, Old Ripy was one of the Ripy family labels, dating back to 1868. It’s reintroduction was done with the consultation of and using memorabilia provided by the Ripy family. It’s a non-chill filtered blend of 8-year-old Bourbon and other whiskeys made at Wild Turkey and bottled at 104 proof (52% ABV). Bond & Lillard is another old-timey brand with mid-19th Century origins, and in this instance, it was recreated using tasting notes from the 1904 World’s Fair, where Bond & Lillard won a Grand Prize. This expression is based on a charcoal-filtered 7-year-old Bourbon and bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV).
In the glass, Old Ripy has a light amber, copper coloring. The nose is sweet with orange cream and vanilla. It also has a quite nutty side, surprisingly so. An oaky note rounds out the scent. The liquid sits light on the palate, and smacks of fruit like a swallow of apple and orange juice, seasoned with baking spices. The chewy nuts are there again too, making this like an unusual nut cake. This washes down as nutty, turning to a lingering sweet vanilla and very light warmth.
BOND & LILLARD
Bottled at 100 proof and aged for at least seven years, Bond & Lillard has a surprisingly light appearance in the glass, with a light copper coloring. In fact, it’s almost golden in appearance, but there is just a bit too much orange in the palette for that to be the case. That is probably because the whiskey is charcoal filtered after being dumped, similar to Jim Beam Green Label. Sniffing the liquor opens up with a lovely, creamy vanilla. The scent is fresh and crisp, like Granny Smith apples tossed with a few sprigs of mint and a lump of brown sugar, ready for baking. That is before baking, mind you, so it’s not at all candied. The aroma is too crisp for that. That crispness carries over as lightness on the palate, and, once again, that is a surprise given the 100 proof. The flavor is a bit like a minty apple pie, what with the brown sugar, Granny Smith apples, apple mint, and vanilla all stirred together. The flavor runs a touch oaky on the backside. From there, the finish runs light and sweet, with a lingering warmth.