Chicken Cock Whiskey

Chicken Cock Whiskey

In the late 19th century, Chicken Cock Whiskey was one of the most famous names in bourbon. While it was dormant for decades following brand sales and a fire in the 1950s, the historic brand is now being revived to its former glory by Grain & Barrel Spirits.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Chicken Cock Whiskey.

There are certain names in whiskey that are hard to forget. Chicken Cock Whiskey, first created when a brand could get away with a name like Chicken Cock, is among those names for obvious reasons. But the brand is more than just an eye-catching name: It has the history and world-class production quality to back it up.

The story of Chicken Cock dates back to 1856 when James A. Miller established a distillery in the bourbon town of Paris, Kentucky. After Miller died a few years later, a clerk named George G. White took over and expanded both the distillery and its distribution. Over three decades, Chicken Cock became a household name in whiskey from coast to coast.

Prohibition, however, forced G.G. White Distillery and Chicken Cock to sell to the Canadian company Distillers Corporation Limited. Still, the name lived on through the 1920s, and Chicken Cock remained legendary as the house whiskey for the renowned Harlem speakeasy the Cotton Club. Here, patrons and jazz musicians alike sipped on the spirit out of smuggled-in tin cans. Duke Ellington even wrote favorably about drinking $14 cans (the equivalent of more than $200 today) in his memoir Music is My Mistress

Post-Prohibition, however, Chicken Cock fell on hard times and its death knell finally rang after a distillery fire in the 1950s. 

The brand lay dormant until spirits entrepreneur Matti Anttila resurrected Chicken Cock using original bottles, promotional materials, and sourced whiskey in 2011. Just seven years later, Grain & Barrel Spirits joined forces with Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Collaborative Distilling Program to create new and distinct Chicken Cock mash bills. Now, Grain & Barrel Spirits and m​​aster distiller Gregg Snyder are reviving Chicken Cock to its former glory with a core line of whiskeys and special releases all distilled, aged, and bottled in Kentucky.

The modern Chicken Cock is led by two flagship whiskeys. The first is the Kentucky Straight Bourbon, a balanced 90-proof spirit with notes of dried fruit, oak, caramel, and vanilla. It joins Kentucky Straight Rye, the first Chicken Cock rye in over 70 years. Along with these stand-by bottles, Chicken Cock makes up to two limited releases annually, the latest being Double Oak, an eight-year-old 92-proof whiskey aged twice in American oak barrels for a full-bodied flavor.

Under this leadership, Chicken Cock’s revival is well underway: According to Nielsen, the brand is the fourth fastest growing ultra-premium whiskey in the $50 to $100 price range. More than a century after its heyday, Chicken Cock is once again a must-stock brand worth crowing about.

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