Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dusty Thursday: Old Hickory 20 yo (circa 1969)

Old Hickory was once a very well known Pennsylvania bourbon made by Publicker in Philadelphia. The distillery went out of business in the early '80s and was later abandoned. The brand currently survives only as a blend made by an unrelated company.

Today, I taste a 20 year old which appears to have been bottled in 1969.  You don't see many 20 year old bourbons from that era, so I was very interested in this one.

Old Hickory 20 year old, 40% abv

Some bourbons tell a story; this one told a story right from the nose, a story of how old bourbon used to taste, a story of how it's changed.  One whiff of this stuff brought me back to every great dusty bourbon I've tasted.  The first sniff hit me with sweet butterscotch - liquid candy, followed up with some spice.  It was a little musty, but it was one of those that makes you wonder why they don't make them like this anymore. I could happily nose it for hours.

Unfortunately, the palate didn't measure up to the incredible nose.  It was light and sweet with honey and a bit chewy, but it felt diluted and lost some of the magic.  The finish was spicy and slightly bitter. Shockingly, for a 20 year old, there was very little in the way of oak or wood, and no signs at all of it being over oaked.

The nose on this was incredible, but it just didn't hold up.  Still, I think I'd be happier just nosing this than drinking most current bourbons.

Thanks to Tim Puett for the sample and photos.


Chuck Logsdon said...

Thanks, Steve and Tim, for this review. Glad to see one of these bottles opened and tasted.

I have been trying to acquire one (even an empty one) as my grandfather was the bottling supervisor at the Kinsey site in Linfield, PA, when this was bottled.

Dave Z is the expert, though. He worked on that line and has taught me much about my grandfather and the products bottled at Kinsey.

Lohss said...

I really liked this one for the window it gave me into the Old Hickory experience. Of course, maybe at 50%, this could be a legendary whisky. However, just the difficulty in locating one put it as legendary for me.

Chuck, I can send you an empty bottle when I finish the first one.

Tim Puett

Chuck Logsdon said...

Tim, thank you very much! I would really like that.

If you want something for it besides shipping, I am happy to pay.

Tim Puett said...

Chuck, I'd never ask for money for an empty bottle. No worries, and I'll let you know when it's empty.

Anonymous said...

Remember their plant in Philly being a toxic Superfund site when I lived in PA and worked not far from there. Glad it finally got cleaned up.

Sam Komlenic said...

The Continental distillery in Philadelphia was proud of their concrete warehouses. Those could have had considerable buffering effect on the 20 years of aging.