The Old Forester King Ranch Edition Blends Kentucky Bourbon With Texas Flavors

Food & Drink

The iconic King Ranch logo is well known across America, especially in Texas, its home. It’s wavy W design is displayed across a wide range of products (Ford trucks, clothing, saddles, and even turfgrass). Yet the roughly 169-year-old cattle ranch has never lent its name to a whiskey until today. The limited-release Old Forester King Ranch Edition bottle of 105-proof, straight Kentucky bourbon remedies that oversight.

Released only in Texas, the collaboration sees two legendary brands link up and celebrate their heritages and uncommon historical connections. For eight generations, the King family has been ranching the Texas plains, and for seven generations, the Brown family has been making whiskey in the hills of Kentucky. Besides their respect for each other’s legacies, the Kentucky Derby connects the two. Old Forester is the main ingredient in the over 120,000 Mint Juleps sold at the Churchill Downs over Derby weekend, and King Ranch has owned three Kentucky Derby winners, including the 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault.

Discussions between the two brands started several years ago as the Texas distilling industry started to flex its muscle and become a national player. Tito’s Handmade Vodka was the first brand to put the state on the map nationally. Several other brands (Deep Eddy Vodka, Balcones, and Garrison Brothers) have made a splash since. The recent addition of Longbranch, a collaboration between actor Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey, is yet another sign that bigger distillers are tapping into the Texas market.

To create a product that highlighted the combined heritages behind both brands and put a unique Lone Star State spin on it, Old Forester sent Cole Irvin, one of their whisky innovators, to the ranch.

“We knew it had to be big, bold, and authentic to capture the essence of both brands,” said Irvin. “When I was on the ranch, I found out they had an abundance of honey mesquite wood. It grows like a weed there and is actually bad for their environment. So, we thought, why not solve two problems at once? We took five to seven-year-old mesquite wood and slow-roasted it for half a day over a fire to create a unique charcoal. Then we brought it back to the distillery and used the charcoal chips to filter our bourbon before putting it into some extremely charred oak barrels for final aging. The resultant bourbon is loaded with spices that has a smooth finish. It’s perfect for sipping after a long day.”

This year’s bottle is the first emerging from a long-term partnership deal the two have signed. It is only being sold in Texas with no online sales planned at $69.99 for a 750ml bottle. According to the team at Old Forester, the next release is already in the pipeline and will be dropped sometime next year. Until then, the residents of Texas will be able to savor something that the rest of the world can only read about from afar.

“Bourbon lovers across Texas are in for a rare and special treat that both whiskey connoisseurs and hardworking people can savor,” said Robert Hodgen, CEO at King Ranch. “We’re proud of the product as well as our partnership which captures American history in a bottle.”

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