Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
It seems like everyone thinks that being a successful whiskey company requires a strong tie to history. This leads companies to tie their brand’s identity to old distillers or distilleries that have nothing to do with the operation of the brand they are selling. This can lead to some confusion for consumers that don’t read into a brand. In the case of RD1 (Registered Distillery One), they are inspired by the first licensed distillery in Lexington, Kentucky. I won’t bury the lead, RD1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Double Finished in Oak and Maple Barrels is delicious. But their branding leaves me a bit baffled.
The history that RD1 was inspired by is certainly an interesting one. The phrase inspired by is key here, and you have to look on their website to get clarity that they do not actually have a connection to the history they tell. They share the story of Ashland Distillery, the first distillery to be licensed in Lexington, Kentucky. That distillery was founded in 1865 and became quite the large operation before shuttering during prohibition.
According to their website, RD1 was founded in 2020 by “Lexington entrepreneurs” – you can view who all is working with the company on another page, but the brief and impersonal story of how this brand came about speaks volumes. Whatever the history, they clearly put together a solid team and have introduced some good products. They started off with the label Old Wm. Tarr then established the RD1 brand with two bourbons, one finished in French Oak. They have now expanded the RD1 line with a Amburana Wood finish and a Maple Wood finish. While I do not have bottles of their other offerings to look at, for both of the new additions the label only mentions that they are bottling the product, where this is distilled or aged is unknown beyond the fact that it had to be made in Kentucky.
The bottle I am looking at in this review is the RD1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Double Finished with Oak and Maple. I can’t recall ever having a maple finished product before, which is surprising as there are quite a few on the market that have utilized it, but I have more often received maple syrup aged in whiskey barrels. The process they are using for this is also pretty interesting. They start with their 4-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, then take French Oak staves that have been pressure treated with maple and add them to the barrel to finish the whiskey. While this is not a process I am familiar with, I can’t argue with the result.
Vital Stats: Bottled at 49.95% ABV. Finished in Oak and Maple Barrels. MSRP of $79.99 per 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is a honey color with a slight dirty orange tint to it.
Nose: This smells like a stack of pancakes smothered in butter and maple syrup.
Palate: There is certainly a note of maple throughout on this, but it is not nearly as pronounced as the nose made me think it would be. This starts off very mild with not much hitting the palate and just builds beautifully. On the mid palate I get some baking spice, oak, and brown sugar with just this subtle maple. By the finish the maple takes over the palate but fades with this lingering bit of black tea like tannin and black pepper spice.
Read the full article at Whiskey Review: RD1 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Double Finished In Oak And Maple