Chicken Cock Bourbon Review

By Jack Brandt

To me, it’s a shame to walk into a liquor store looking for bourbon, plop $40 to $80 on a bottle of Blanton’s, Baker’s, Bookers, Knob Creek, Woodford, Makers 46, or any number of very popular bourbons that we’ve all had a thousand times. If you’re buying as a gift, fine, it’s not the time to gamble, but with so many bourbons out there now I’d rather take a chance on discovering a gem, even if I occasionally choose garbage. 

That’s why I picked up a bottle of Chicken Cock the last time I strolled into my small-town liquor store—well, that, and I liked the name. Verdict: It’s outstanding … smooth yet still lets you know you’re drinking whiskey, caramely but not too sweet—all the adjectives that describe good bourbon. I’ll admit that I thought it was a new brand, so I called my aficionado buddy in Virginia (if you don’t have one of these friends you need to get one) to tell him what I’d “discovered.” And like usual, he schooled me via a truncated version of “The Famous Old Brand” and its rich history. He told me that the bourbon, first distilled at the “capital of bourbon country”—Paris, Kentucky—has been around since the mid 1800s (1856, to be exact). Although it survived prohibition by being made in Canada and smuggled down in tin cans, it disappeared for a long while thanks to a fire at the distillery in 1950, only to be revived in 2016 by a company called Grain and Barrel.  

I looked up the rest, and found that today’s Chicken Cock bourbon is made via a 2018 collaboration with the Bardstown Bourbon Company distillery under the direction of master distillers Gregg Snyder (G&B) and Steve Nally (BBC). Of course none of this matters if the product sucks, but Chicken Cock is far from sucky. It’s delicious; I could drink it with every meal, and I’m talking about the brand’s lowest-priced stuff here, not its Rye, Reserve or Chanticleer bottles, the latter of which rivals anything out there. In any grade, Chicken Cock’s unique honey-combed bottle, and the name, make it stand out anywhere. 

Why Chicken Cock? It turns out that the old timers weren’t trying to be funny; a “chicken cock” was the name for a rooster back then, since the term rooster hadn’t been coined yet. And game birds were stuff of legend in the Deep South at the time they needed a name. 

Since purchasing that first bottle as a novelty, I’ve bought more as both my home drink and even more frequently as a party favor, because I’ve found that the name alone makes a great ice breaker—even before the whiskey within the bottle begins to do its thing.  

Cost: $65

Pros: great tasting bourbon, colorful history, great name

Cons: price indicative of longer-aged bourbons




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