Kentucky Senator Bourbon Gets New Shot at Life

Yet another old brand of bourbon whiskey has a new life, the Kentucky Senator brand.

Kentucky Senator was originally distilled and bottled by Crigler & Crigler (1874-1916) of Covington, Kentucky, and later by Double Springs Distillers, Inc. of Bardstown. The 2021 revival of the brand is led by Kentucky Senator Spirits LLC. The idea is that each release will carry the name of a U.S. Senator from the Bluegrass state. Their first release is named for Senator Alben W. Barkley.

Crigler and Crigler historically sold a large number of brands including Brier Rabbit, Buffalo Springs, Col. Bob Corn, Crigler, Crigler’s Favorite, Forsythe, John Barley Corn, Kentucky Senator, Meadowthorpe Dry Gin, Old 100 Corn, Old Special Stock, Sweet Sixteen and the well-known Woodland, according to the alcohol history website pre-pro.com.

The brand eventually went defunct, and was picked up by entrepreneurs. There are a large number of bourbon brands that have been revived. In a product like bourbon, it is a relatively easy project if your company makes other liquors; it is a matter of new labels, new product recipes and some marketing. Some brands that have returned include James E. Pepper, American Pride, Jos. E. Finch, Henry Clay, Cream of Kentucky, Old Elk, Green River and such. It was mostly the case that larger companies let smaller niche brands lapse, and entrepreneurs picked up the names for free. Read Michael Veach’s post on Bourbonveach.com.

A history of Crigler by historian Jack Sullivan tells the story of the company. The successor owner Double Springs Distillers was a giant firm; in the 1960s they even had a line of commemorative bottles, including the one at right that recently popped up on eBay. The commemoratives of Double Springs, designed by artists including Eric Olsen and B. Hasenstab, were in dozens of shapes, including vintage Pierce-Arrow cars, Irishmen, steam cars and such. Hasenstab, whose dates are unknown, was a very prolific commercial artist, and designed all sorts of collectibles for the tourist market. The bottles were not sold for the taste of the Bourbon, and more for novelty’s sake. The late 60s and 70s were sort of a crazy time for these sorts of figurines; even Avon sold perfume figurines.

The current revival of Kentucky Senator began in 2017, with the start of an application for the trademark at the USPTO by Kentucky Senator Spirits LLC. The owners are attorney Andre Regard and Damon Thayer, a Republican state senator.

This spring’s first batch, which hit the market in February of 2021, is a limited release of 1,320 bottles of 107 proof bourbon, made of 78.5% corn, 13% rye and 8.5% malted barley. Kentucky Senator is bottled at Bluegrass Distillers of Lexington and is distributed by Kentucky Eagle Distributing.

The website breakingbourbon.com gives it a decent review, saying that it “will ultimately please those who prefer a more traditional and straightforward flavor profile who enjoy a bourbon with solid oak underpinnings.”

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