Proof: 80
Age: 4 Years Old
Distillery: Barton Distillery (Under Sazerac) Bardstown, Kentucky
Master Distiller: Drew Kulsveen
Season: Summer

3.5 (69.37%) 79 votes


I was looking for a decent pub or restaurant to enjoy the World Cup 2014 matches and wound up at J. Gumbo’s on the campus of the University of Louisville. Being the multi-tasker that I am I figured what better time to do a bourbon review?

Denise, our bartender, introduced herself cordially.

Me: “Whats the worst bourbon you have?” 

Bartender: “This stuff in the well, its $3″ (Apparently”this stuff” was so bad that she didn’t want to mention it by name.)

Me: “I’ll take that – neat”

Bartender: [Shivers in disgust]

A three finger pour OF Kentucky Tavern in a plastic cup is what I got. This was not going to be pleasant, I thought to myself.

Kentucky Tavern has been around since the trademark was registered in 1903. The brand survived Prohibition, two World Wars, and several acquisitions. The latest acquisition saw Kentucky Tavern purchased by Sazerac in 2009 as part of a package deal with Tom Moore Distillery/Constellation Spirits Brands.

According to “The Book of Bourbon” Kentucky Tavern is comprised of the same wheat heavy mashbill as Weller and Old Fitzgerald.But given that the only places one finds Kentucky Tavern are in the hands of undiscriminating hobos and under the sink at dive bars, the mashbill likely wont be a redeeming quality.

Strangely enough, when I give Kentucky Tavern a whiff, the nose isnt off putting. Pepper, sweetcorn, and cinnamon waft out of my plastic cup.


Even more surprising, this bourbon isn’t gag-inducing. The wheated mashbill presents a smooth, sweet, very light bodied bourbon. Perfect for sipping on a hot summer day while eating cajun Jambalaya. The burn is non-existent (which is expected from an 80 -proof), and the flavors are muted, save for sweet corn. In fact, Kentucky Tavern is barely above being a simple distilled corn whiskey.

The pepper, baking spices, and corn in the nose are prevalent on the palate, but if you aren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t realize you are drinking bourbon. What is somewhat notable is the fruit in the finish: really fresh pear apricot and cherry. But again, this stuff is so watery light bodied that you would be forgiven if you miss all that.



Because of the very muted character of Kentucky Tavern, the low proof, and the generally unremarkable character of the whiskey, Kentucky Tavern is not a bourbon lovers bourbon. Whiskey drinking Bachelorette party attendees and frat rats will enjoy this. As will members of the blackout brigade (8 shots should get you where you want to be).

We give Kentucky Tavern Bourbon a C+.

How we grade bourbons. KT isn’t terrible. I have had much, much worse out of the well. But Kentucky Tavern does absolutely nothing for those who want quality. Maybe that’s why it sells for $9.99 a half-gallon at the drug store up the street.

Because of its light body and low proof, this is a bourbon that’s easy to enjoy in the summer. Just don’t mix it with anything, and if you are going to add ice, use a slow melting king cube or spherical ice ball.

Have you tried Kentucky Tavern Bourbon? If so, leave your own review by clicking the button below!

2018-07-06T05:57:18+00:00June 25th, 2018|BOURBON REVIEW, C RATED BOURBONS|6 Comments


  1. Kent Bozarth November 10, 2018 at 1:03 am - Reply

    Reminiscent of Walkers Deluxe if not the same.

  2. JPK November 14, 2018 at 1:06 am - Reply

    C+? Oh, wow. You claim to have tasted worse bourbon than this? Funny, as I see you have Old Crow as an F, and I consider Old Crow a tiny notch above KT.

    No one will enjoy this(nope not even inexperienced Frat Boys who get drunk off Bud Light), but being alcohol it will get you buzzed for cheap. I definitely recommend holding your nose on this.

  3. Phil November 30, 2018 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Not very good

  4. Donald B Cox December 8, 2018 at 5:13 am - Reply

    Taste is obviously relative. I don’t drink for flavors. I drink for a buzz. That being said KT taste pretty awesome to me. I threw away a lot of money drinking high-end whiskey and at the end of day the buzz was the same. Just my opinion.

  5. JT December 20, 2018 at 12:00 am - Reply

    I’ve kept KT as my “mixer” bourbon ever since friends in Owensboro introduced me to it in 2001. It’s not terrible and is a straight, not blended, bourbon. However, yesterday I grabbed a bottle and got it home and noticed it no longer says Straight Bourbon. Instead, it says Special Reserve and is not looking step as a straight bourbon. In fact, it is labeled as 80 proof bourbon with natural flavors. What happened to my old KT?

  6. Leo Gizzi December 20, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    Sorry you feel that way. Personally I find KT a fine, smooth bourbon with good flavor. The fact that it is inexpensive makes it doubly great to me. I’ve tasted all kinds of bourbon in my long lifetime and I’d drink KT any day of the week and enjoy it’s value..

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