Review: Old Ripy Bourbon is History Revisited

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Sometimes, companies decide to head back into the archives for their next big project. In this case, Campari America decided to head all the way back to pre-Prohibition times and to do that they enlisted the help of two men, T.B. Ripy IV and Tom Ripy, great-grandson and great-great-grandson of the bourbon’s namesake T.B. Ripy. What came out of their research is one of the two new releases in their Whiskey Barons collection, Old Ripy Bourbon.

The Old Ripy brand was originally created by James Ripy, an Irish immigrant and was made in Lawrenceburg Kentucky up until 1950. The site of the Old Ripy distillery is now the Wild Turkey distillery, which is fitting since that is where this whiskey is currently produced. Before jumping to any conclusions, though, Campari America stated in a release that neither Jimmy or Eddie Russell, Wild Turkey’s Master Distillers, were involved in the creation or production of Old Ripy.

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Old Ripy is made from a blend of eight and twelve-year-old straight bourbon whiskies, as well as some as young as six years old. While the exact proportions of the mash bill have not been disclosed, the recipe does contain corn, malted barley, and rye.

Appearance: Old Ripy has a nice deep amber color.

Nose: Vanilla and oak play twin roles in the majority of the nose, with oak being the major. Under this, there are hints of raisin sweetness and just a tiny bit of ripe banana.

Palate: Again, oak is one of the primary components you will find in Old Ripy. Before that, though, you’re going to get an initial caramel sweetness on the tongue. From there, the bourbon seems to be, for lack of a better term, chewy. Because it is non-chill filtered, you’re going to get oily characteristics from elements (cogeners) that have not been filtered out to make the bourbon feel the way it does on your palate. You really want to work it around your mouth to express the burnt caramel and toffee notes that are followed by crisp apples.

Finish: A very tannic finish that is accompanied by a warmth that settles in your throat. The bourbon certainly, by now, announces that it is 52% ABV, yet at the same time, it isn’t too overwhelming. The tannins cede power to pepper notes which terminate in a caramel and toffee sweetness.

Final Thoughts: I’m all for the resurrection of historic recipes. Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series, among other projects, have all been interesting ventures that have combined history with good booze. I’m curious to see where this Whiskey Barons collection goes in years ahead.

Old Ripy will retail for $49.99 but will only be sold in 375mL bottles (which is an homage to how spirits were bottled pre-Prohibition).