Story by Steve Coomes
LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. will celebrate the release of its Straight Rye Whiskey with two parties in its home state on May 20th, and another at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C., on May 21st. At the distillery, sales will begin May 20th and run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Other Kentucky retail stores will also start selling it that day.
Sales of the 107-proof, barrel strength whiskey will be the distillery’s first brown spirits release since it opened in 2015. For the past two years, KPD stuck to owner Corky Taylor’s commitment to distill, age and bottle only its own whiskey. In the interim, it sold only Lucky Moonshine.
In January, Taylor told The Bourbon Review that the Rye’s price would be around $100, leaving leeway for retailers’ prices to vary above or below. According to Cordell Lawrence, global marketing director for Kentucky Peerless, the distillery price for the release is set at $125.
Eager to taste it before you buy? In Louisville, you can do that at Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 20th. The first 100 guests will receive a free taste from a commemorative Glencairn glass, and pours can be purchased afterward. Admission to the event is free.
In Lexington, Belle’s Cocktail House (156 Market St.) will host a meet-and-greet from 4 to 6 p.m. with Corky Taylor, and share pours of the Rye. Cover charge for the event is $10, and guests will also receive a special Glencairn glass.
If you happen to be in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, May 21st, then visit Jack Rose for its release party from 6 to 8 p.m. Guests will enjoy neat pours of the whiskey and get to mingle with KPD president, Carson Taylor, and head distiller Caleb Kilburn.
On frequent buying trips to Kentucky, Jack Rose owner Bill Thomas has made multiple stops at KPD to taste the rye as it aged. He told Taylor early on he wanted not only Peerless on his shelves, but to host a release party.
“I’ve seen it on its journey, I think it’s a really good product,” said Thomas, whose bar boasts nearly 2,700 types of whiskey in inventory. “That they put so much time and care into distillation, cooperage, aging—they’re doing it right and following tradition.”
According to Lawrence, once Peerless began taking online reservations for bottles of the Rye, demand was strong and came from people from all around the U.S. (Click HERE to reserve a bottle.)
The Rye’s release comes 100 years after Taylor’s great-great grandfather, Henry Kraver, closed Kentucky Peerless Distilling in the run up to Prohibition. The massive plant was located in Henderson, Ky. and pumped out 200 barrels of whiskey a day—roughly 20 times what his descendants now make.
Lawrence said this first batch of Rye came from 89 barrels averaging 220 bottles per barrel. This release and every release after it—including the Peerless Bourbon due out in early 2019—will be bottled at barrel strength.
“Proofs we’ve seen so far on the Rye barrels are 107.4, 107.6 and 107.8, so pretty consistent,” he said. Every bottle is hand numbered with its own serial number and ABV.
Following its Kentucky and D.C. releases, retailers in other large U.S. markets will receive bottles in late August or early September.
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