Peerless Rye

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I had the honor of speaking at the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in Louisville last month about my book, Bourbon & Bullets.

The Frazier’s neighbor in downtown Louisville is the Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., led by Corky Taylor, pictured above. During the event, Corky spoke about his dad, a stalwart Army Infantry colonel who served as General Patton’s aide-de-camp during World War II. We drank Peerless Rye in his and his family’s honor. It was my first sip of the 2-year-old rye that took the whiskey community by storm last year (Whisky Advocate named Peerless Rye the 15th best whiskey in the world in 2017, the only craft whiskey to make their list; also, it currently retails for approx. $100)!

Peerless’ history dates to the 1880s when Corky’s great grandfather Henry Kraver purchased a distillery in Henderson, Kentucky. By 1917, Peerless was producing 23,000 barrels/year. Unfortunately, World War I and Prohibition knocked Peerless out until 2014 when Corky and his son restored the 115-year-old building next to the Frazier and assembled a talented new Peerless team.

The whiskey is very, very good. I’ve since sipped it in a more controlled environment, and I see why Whisky Advocate put it on their list.

The nose is youthful but the subtle ethanol doesn’t dominate like it often does in craft whiskeys. It is not overly raw or grainy. The aromas are soft and sweet, featuring Old Forester-like banana, freshly baked bread, a touch of toasted almond and oak.

On the palate, it’s a spice bomb. After a flash of caramel, the rye dances all over the tongue- I get white pepper, leather, oak, and smoke.

I know people see the $100 price tag and groan. I’m with you; it’s a lot for a 2-year-old rye. But when a company invests in a restoration like this- of a brand and an historic building- and the whiskey is good/so well packaged, I am happy to put that bottle on my bar. If you’re hesitant to pull the trigger on the current expression, their 3-year-old rye is just around the corner.

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