In general, your neighborhood bartender likely isn’t spending a ton of time judging you and your alcohol preferences. They have more important things to do than wonder why you’d order a shot of Fireball. They have other patrons to worry about, drinks to mix, and various other jobs grabbing for their attention.
Grain & Barrel Spirits, the company behind the Chicken Cock brand’s revival, continues to push the brand upmarket, releasing limited expressions of all kinds of (sourced) whiskeys, revolving around bourbon and rye. This latest expression is a doozy: A 20 year old Canadian rye named in honor of Harlem’s Cotton Club, where the original Chicken Cock was the house whiskey back in the 1920s and ’30s.
Chicken Cock was the house whiskey at the Cotton Club (a legendary Prohibition-era speakeasy) and supposedly a favorite of Duke Ellington. A 100-proof Canadian Straight Rye Whiskey aged for 20 years, the new limited-edition Cotton Club release is both earthy and citrusy, while a hint of vanilla slips in on repeated tastings. Outstanding, but also a hefty price — albeit the bottle does come with a commemorative tin, reflective of the tin cans the whiskey would arrive in via Canada during Prohibition. It’s available for pre-sale on the brand website for $500.
The Chicken Cock American whiskey label, owned by Grain & Barrel Spirits and operating out of Kentucky, is known, among other reasons, for the use of its sharp looking bottles that are replicas of older design. Its latest offering, a 15 year old bourbon, fits especially into this mold with its bottle look and rarer whiskey designation.
Chicken Cock was originally established in 1856 out of Paris, Kentucky. It wasn’t until years later during prohibition, however, that Chicken Cock became popular as the house whiskey of the Cotton Club, one of the most legendary prohibition speakeasies. Because the brand survived through America’s prohibition, they still know how to make whiskey as they did in the good old days.
The new Chicken Cock Ryeteous Blonde rye whiskey, according to those behind it, was finished in Chicken Cock Kentucky Straight Bourbon barrels that were used by Goodwood to age their blonde ale. Once the ale had completed its finishing process in the Chicken Cock Bourbon barrels and the beer removed for consumption, the barrels were then shipped back to the distillery and refilled with the rye whiskey.