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Kings County Distillery Triple Header - 3 Barrel Strength Single Barrel Bourbon Reviews

Kings County seems to be picking up steam in the whiskey world, making a big splash in the barrel proof whiskey fan circles. Their dark-as-night and proofed-to-the-moon small barrel single barrel releases are garnering some awesome feedback from discerning palates. All these bottles have been in my possession for some time, and I purchased them all fair and square, so I feel like I'm in a good position to finally draw some of my own conclusions and share my thoughts of this awesome craft distillery with you today. Whiskey enthusiasts have long been enamored with capturing the magic of a 'single barrel' and experiencing some level of ownership of that magic for themselves. This happens frequently today in the way of whiskey groups picking for an avid fanbase, or for liquor stores purveying a fine selection for their customers. At the heart of it, it's an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper, more personal level than mass releases can achieve. Single barrel reviews however, are a bit of a double edged sword... What I find in these barrels today could be completely different than any of the other single barrels in existence, so take this snapshot with a grain of salt, or regard it in a way that attempts to distill the essence of the experience as there will be parallels to other whiskeys of the same mash bill & cooperage.

For the uninitiated, Kings County Distillery operates out of Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York & has been creating exclusively whiskeys in the Paymaster Building since 2012. They only ever sell whiskey they distilled themselves and won't source from anyone to achieve their final product. Some more info from the Kings County website:

Kings County blends distilling practices from a variety of cultures into creative whiskeys that remain traditional while defying convention, using Scottish copper pot stills, open fermentation, and local grains to make American whiskeys that expand the category. One of the preeminent craft distilleries in the United States, the American Distilling Institute named Kings County Distillery of the Year in 2016.

So let's dive right into 3 glasses of nearly hazmat whiskey - what could go wrong? Sunday Funday am I right? Let this serve as a reminder for you to drink more water, as I will be doing in between sips of these impossibly dark whiskeys.


Social Wine Pick - Kings County Single Barrel Barrel Strength Bourbon

Company on Label: Kings County Distillery

Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 80% NY Corn, 20% UK Malt

Proof: 138.2°

Age: 6 years

Further identification: This single barrel comes from barrel 3206 and was picked in 2022; these sold very quickly!

Plaza Package Pick - Kings County Single Barrel Barrel Strength Bourbon

Company on Label: Kings County Distillery

Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 80% NY Corn, 20% UK Malt

Proof: 134.2°

Age: 7 years

Further identification: This single barrel comes from barrel 1655 and was picked in 2022; it looks to still be available here

Liquor Junction Pick - Kings County Single Barrel Barrel Strength Bourbon

Company on Label: Kings County Distillery

Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 80% NY Corn, 20% UK Malt

Proof: 132°

Age: 5 years

Further identification: This single barrel comes from barrel 2392 and was picked a few years ago (2019 or 2020 I believe, before the back labels changed slightly); it shows batch #61 on the back; Liquor Junction carries many other Kings County products still today


Social Wines Single Barrel Review

Nose: Delicate candied malt and chocolate greet me upfront. Funky molasses, dark walnut bread and latex fill my nostrils with an effective potency indicative of the proof. These aromas all pass quickly as the glass evolves. Digging through I find gingerbread cookies and confectioners sugar. There's a soft, warm and brooding plum aroma like a mulled wine plum cobbler fresh out of the oven. I find the most sweetness on this glass of any of the 3.

Returning from a sip I find pear, apple and cinnamon. There's a creamy, tannic characteristic like a mulled wine. Herbal tones swing in as the musty barrel influence makes itself known. It's bright and tingly in the nose. Overall its perfectly balanced between funky and sweet. This is possibly the best example of an approachable, sweet and complex bourbon from Kings County that I've ever tried. The only detracting point to this nose is that recurring latex / plastic note that keeps coming up; I'm really not a fan of it, but since it is only apparent from time to time I can still enjoy a majority of this glass. Mmm. The confectioners sugar and marshmallow are just on another level late in the glass if you can spend the time with it. Aromas from the empty glass include heavy smoke, sweet maple syrup and corn husks.

Palate: Mmm. My first sip is delectable here. It sits creamy on the tongue before creating an aspen explosion after sending the sip down the chest. Chocolate covered cherries sit in the linger. The mouth feel is creamier than the other two, spreading and sticking to every portion of my mouth, reminding me of a good Weller Full Proof pick in that regard. Another sip produces more of that aspen note as milk chocolate and cinnamon splash against my tongue in harmonious zigzags. As the glass gets lower I find lemon peel has slowly crept in. Overall this starts creamy, crescendos fast in a hefty rise of cinnamon tinged mulled wine and caramel and then finishes soft and easy in a beautiful bell curve. Tasting the last sip produces loads of dark plum, raisin, fig and a trove of spice that really attacks the senses & rumbles the stomach. It's a hefty beast that may not be containable in a neat glass - I might consider making a phenomenal cocktail out of this.


Plaza Package Single Barrel Review

Nose: Creamy sweet tart aromas show up here. There's an intense prevalence of oak out of the oldest pick of the bunch. Dark soil meets clay in defiance of the sweet start. Soft and silky in the nose, I am not aware of the proof here. Faint expressed lemon peel and herbal tea are interesting additions. Light aromas of crayons make this glass feel rather simple on the nose.

Revisiting the nose after taking a sip shows off a new creamy butterscotch aroma I really enjoy. Further arts and crafts aromas create a confusing array. Vanilla begins to establish prominence. Traditional whiskey drinkers will find this approachable as I find a lot of corn-based aromas of caramel and marshmallow. The late nose is a funky rollercoaster as sweet vanilla meets tarragon and fennel. The empty glass smells of dark chocolate covered raisins, soft brandy and beach sand.

Palate: My first sip on this glass is balanced at first glance. The mouthfeel is thick and pervasive and it spreads to every corner it can find before settling out softly after a short while. I find brown sugar, buttery, candied walnuts and vanilla syrup. Overall this drinks surprisingly easy. Graham cracker meets nutty toffee & malt in a laid back, friendly hang out. Woah, after a long rest the mouth feel has turned quite drying with allspice, black pepper and an interesting blandness akin to balsa wood. Overall this doesn't have much complexity and the linger is unfortunately on the short end. My last sip is filled with cherry skins, soft florals, nutmeg and turmeric.


Liquor Junction Single Barrel Review

Nose: This one is definitely the lightest in intensity of the three, possible due to a good bit of oxidation at this point. I find the latex note I was finding on the Social Wines pick too. Smoky, heavy charcoal fills the glass. I can envision that the almost antiseptic quality here might be divisive to more traditional whiskey drinkers.

Post-sip I find the nose to have caramelized well. Hints of anise sneak into the glass. Deep inhales are approachable and the smokiness returns well. Anise, leather and savory nutty tones balance well. I am reminded of the Worcestershire sauce base marinade that I use for homemade venison jerky. Mmm. Brown sugar adds to the delicious marinade experience. Overall this glass feels like a fine evening spent out in the woods by a camp fire. The empty glass smells of hot chocolate powder, molasses and orange peel zest.

Palate: Sipping on this whiskey shows off an intense, malty effervescence as cherry cola tingles through the chest. It produces a heft I'd only personally recommend to the most seasoned whiskey drinkers ready for a high proof, full volume concert. The mouth feel is thick like molasses and produces flavors of lightly steeped tea in an oak mug. In the wise words of my good friend Eric Gilbert "it tastes like... burning!". Another sip is much easier to palate and I find dark chocolate, cherry skins, plum pie, and raspberry jam. Wow. That was an onslaught of flavor! As the glass gets lower licorice builds well. Cinnamon becomes quite potent and makes me start shaking my head in wonder where all of this flavor came from. My last sip is pleasant, though a little too heavy on the licorice for my personal preference. It lingers long with allspice, cardamom and black tea.


Final Ranking:

Tie 1. Liquor Junction

Tie 1. Social Wines

2. Plaza Package

The first place tie was tough. I both liked and disliked each for different reasons. Ultimately I had to settle them and did a blind tasting and still couldn't pick a winner. Overall I'd say I'm not overly crazy for any of these whiskeys. They are all certainly unique, but I don't think any of these are necessarily exceptional whiskey I need to have on my shelf. I really like the idea of trying some of these in cocktails, but my time of spending my own dollars on these single barrels are unfortunately going to be coming to an end unless something changes in these bottles, or another release comes along to change my mind. I still think they solidly fit my 3 score which means I could go either way on them. I'll still certainly enjoy and share the rest of these! Hope this was helpful - it's been a while since I've done a head to head. Cheers!



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