A Western Kentucky bourbon revival is already drawing strong reviews for its flavor and price.
Green River Distillery in Owensboro was founded in 1885 and relaunched in 2020. Now, having rebuilt the abandoned 28-acre distillery, Green River is releasing its first bourbon in over a century and hopes to reclaim some of the historic luster of the brand.
The new Green River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will hit stores starting Feb. 11 for a suggested price of $34.99, according to a press release. The limited release will be available for purchase at the distillery, online, and in Kentucky. It will also be rolling out to select retailers in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Northwest Florida.
The bourbon is over five years old and is 90 degrees. According to the tasting notes, the bourbon has a nose of warming spice, cinnamon, dried cherry, and light leather, with flavors of cinnamon, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate mint on the palate. It has a mashbill of 70% corn, 21% winter rye, 9% 2 and 6 row malted barley. The corn comes primarily from Daviess County, according to the distillery.
In an early review, whiskey critic Fred Minnick called it a fantastic whiskey for the price.
“Wow, my hats off — my hats off absolutely — to Green River, to Jacob Call the master distiller there, for making great bourbon,” Minnick said in his online review.
Call is an eighth generation distiller from Kentucky. His ancestor Samuel Call distilled whiskey on his Kentucky farm in the late 1700s, the statement said.
“For the first time in over 100 years, Green River bourbon is flowing within the walls of its original home,” Call said. “As someone with a family connection to the early days of Kentucky bourbon, being part of the revival of such a legendary whiskey has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”
History of Green River Bourbon
The historic distillery was acquired in 2014 by Terressentia, which uses a rapid aging process. In 2016 they started traditional distillation under the OZ Tyler name, but in 2020 they reverted to the Green River name. It now produces 90,000 barrels of bourbon and rye a year for bulk and private label partners, including Duke Spirits.
Prior to Prohibition, the Green River name was associated with quality. Green River Distilling Co. was founded in 1885 by John W. McCulloch. The whiskey has received international awards, including a gold medal and “best show” at the 1900 Paris Exposition, and a grand prize at the 1905 Liege Exposition in Belgium, the statement said.
Grandson Rob McCulloch worked with the new owners of the distillery to bring it back. “I’ve always wanted to see Green River whiskey made at its original location in Owensboro. It completes the story my great-grandfather started in 1885,” McCulloch said in a statement.
The whiskey also revives Owensboro’s role as the epicenter of bourbon production. The city once had more than 20 distilleries.
“Visiting the Green River Distillery in Owensboro is like stepping back in time to the earliest days of bourbon production in the United States,” Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, said in the statement. “Many bourbon enthusiasts don’t realize that Owensboro and western Kentucky were among the most important regions for bourbon production in the 1800s. When you stand on the Green River campus, you stand on sacred ground.
The new bourbon bottle, which has a horseshoe-shaped imprint, bears the phrase “The Pride of Owensboro.”
“I’m proud of the great work our team has done in bringing Green River to Owensboro back to life after years of inactivity – not only because of what it means for our business, but also what it means for this community. wonderful city,” Simon Burch, CEO of Green River Distilling Co., said in the statement. “In its heyday, Green River’s success was intrinsically tied to Owensboro’s proud whiskey-making heritage. The brand revival will make that true once again, and we plan to sell it everywhere, just like the original Green River.
You can book tours and tastings of the distillery, which is the westernmost stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, online at Greenriverdistilling.com.