Before the evils of Prohibition ravaged our great nation, Kentucky’s bourbon industry was thriving, with more than 180 distilleries dotting the state. Unfortunately, most of those bourbons never recovered from the government-imposed dry spell, and were lost to time.
Enter Campari America, who’s taken a step back into history to resurrect two of these bourbons: Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard. Each dates back to the 1800s and was a significant player in Kentucky’s bourbon scene. So to recreate those recipes, the brand consulted original tasting notes from historical files, researched old product descriptions from packaging and news articles, and interviewed surviving family members who still recall the taste of the original liquid.
As you can imagine, that was quite an undertaking, and it took two two years of detective work and trial and error to piece together an accurate representation of the original recipes.
While Campari America counts Wild Turkey as one of its core brands, the esteemed distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell were not involved in making either of these bourbons. But word is that Eddie Russell will be lending his expertise into the development of future Whiskey Barons products, so it sounds like there’s more to come. Until then, meet Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard.
First bottled in 1868, Old Ripy was made in Lawrenceburg, KY until 1950. It’s a hefty 104-proof combination of eight-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon with 12-year-old bourbon and some younger whiskeys. It’s non-chill filtered, which means that it retains all those congeners, fusel oils, lipids and proteins that are believed to have existed in the original. This typically results in complex flavor characteristics, a fuller body and a “chewier” mouthfeel.
BOND & LILLARD
Bond & Lillard traces its roots back to 1869, when William F. Bond and his brother-in-law, Christopher Bond Lillard partnered up. This Kentucky straight bourbon is 100 proof, and unlike the whiskey above, it’s charcoal filtered. This filtration process results is a lighter colored and softer bourbon with more floral notes. Fun fact: the judges at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair declared of the original: “real delicacy of flavor, beauty in the sparkle and superiority in strength–it bears no equal.”
Both Old Ripy and Bond & Lillard bourbons will set you back $49.99 for a 375 ml bottle (that’s half the size of your typical bottle). You can find them in select markets, including California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York City, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. And if you’re in the area, these whiskeys are also sold at the Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. So if you didn’t have a reason to visit before…