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Cigar Spirits: Old Ripy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

31 May 2017

While Old Ripy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey may have been recently released, it’s actually an old name in the bourbon industry. According to parent company Campari (also the maker of Wild Turkey), Old Ripy was created by Irish immigrant James Ripy in 1868 in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and continued to be made there until 1950.

The Ripy family distillery, which was for a while called the Ripy Bros. Distillery, would become the favorite source for Austin Nichols, owner of Wild Turkey, who eventually bought the distillery in 1971. Wild Turkey remains the owner of the distillery today, which is where the new Old Ripy iteration is distilled.

Old Ripy is one of two released bourbons that are part of Campari’s Whiskey Barons collection. Also released earlier this year is Bond & Lillard, a reference to William F. Bond and his brother-in-law, Christopher C. Lillard, who formed a bourbon partnership in 1869.

Both Whiskey Barons offerings come in 375 ml. bottles, each with a suggested price of $50. The price is high, but I do appreciate the smaller bottles for limited release products; the strategy allows more bottles to be available and makes makes buying a whole bottle before you’ve tried one more palatable.

Old Ripy is 104-proof (52% alcohol by volume) and “a combination of 8-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon with 12-year-old and younger whiskies.” It’s a weird way to describe the blend ages, though perhaps an effort to differentiate from Wild Turkey Rare Breed, which is a combination of 6, 8, and 12-year-old bourbon.

It pours a medium amber color and features a nose with intense oak, vanilla, and spice. On the palate, it shows a complex combination of soft cinnamon spice, chewy roasted nut, ripe bananas, caramel, and leather. The finish is oaky and fruity with toasted biscuits.

This is a very nice bourbon, with well-integrated tannic flavors and plenty of oak and spice. My only hesitancy in heartily recommending it is the price. Still, Wild Turkey fans (of which I consider myself one) who enjoy Rare Breed and Russel’s Reserve ought to try Old Ripy, whether in a bar or from your bottle shop.

The bourbon’s oakiness pairs well with a full-bodied cigar. Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped cigars like Umbagog or Henry Clay fit the bill. So do Nicaraguan puros like Flor de las Antillas and Illusione.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

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