I’m a big subscriber to the idea that if you’re going to mix whiskey with coke, buy the cheap stuff. If you’re going to mix vodka with lemonade and sweet tea, buy the cheap stuff. Well, today I’ve decided to truly put this to the test. This review of Kentucky Deluxe will confirm just how poor the whiskey is on its own and then explore whether or not it’s drinkable when you add coke.
Kentucky Deluxe is known for being one of the cheapest and lowest quality whiskeys on the market. We’re going to explore the bottom shelf on this one and let you know if it’s palatable, so you don’t have to find out for yourself.
Kentucky Deluxe History
We’re in the time of more expensive, craft whiskey, much like we are with craft beer. Kentucky Deluxe, in contrast, stands out for it’s cheap availability. Heaven Hill distilleries was founded in 1935 after prohibition ended. over the years they became the largest family owned distillery in the US. Their selection includes Heaven Hill Bourbon, Larceny, Evan Williams, and Elijah Craig, among others.
Heaven Hill Distillery does not take much credit for their production of KD and the 4 other blended whiskeys they produce. The bottle says it’s blended and bottled by Kentucky Deluxe Distilling Co., and not that it’s distilled by Heaven Hill Distillery. This makes complete sense for a distillery that is widely known for producing good whiskey and bourbon. However, there is use for cheap whiskey and demand for it, so they’ll happily supply it.
Kentucky Deluxe Overview
- Whiskey: Blended
- Distilled By: Kentucky Deluxe Distilling Co. / Heaven Hill Distillery
- ABV: 40%, 80 Proof
- Aged: 36 months
- Mashbill: Unknown
Kentucky Deluxe is technically a blended whiskey, but not in the same way as other blended whiskeys. It is 20% Kentucky straight whiskey blended with 80% grain neutral spirits, also known as vodka. This brings the 36 month age statement on the bottle into question, too. The 20% straight whiskey is aged 3 years, but what about the other 80%? It’s likely that this large portion is unaged.
Heaven Hill Distillery doesn’t release the mash bills of most of their products, so we really don’t know what grains are used in the production of this bottom-shelf “whiskey”.
Kentucky Deluxe Taste
This is normally the part where I’d go into depth on the nose, palate, and finish of the whiskey, but I’m not sure Kentucky Deluxe warrants that kind of attention to a tasting. I’m simply going to have a glass on the rocks to let you know if it’s as bad as I remember it. Then, I’ll try it in a whiskey coke to see if buying cheap whiskey is the way to go for mixing it with soda.
The smell actually isn’t too bad. I mean, there’s no real complex notes to smell, but it’s light alcohol and some light caramel. In terms of the actual taste, I’d never choose to drink this neat or on the rocks, but it wasn’t all that bad either.
There’s a burning sensation there to let you know you’re drinking cheap liquor, but it’s not unbearable. The caramel notes are more reminiscent of artificial flavoring than spending time in charred oak barrels but, again, not unbearable. As a note, there is not actually any artificial flavoring as that would disqualify it from being labeled a whiskey, it simply resembles it. The worst part is certainly the finish. The burning sensation sits in the back of your throat for quite some time. Once the ice settles in, the finish is actually diluted quite a bit.
Kentucky Deluxe with Coke
The whole idea behind reviewing Kentucky Deluxe was to understand just how bad or just how drinkable it is when you add coke, and the results are in. When you add Kentucky Deluxe to coke, a 50/50 mix, it’s actually decent. While I’d much prefer to drink it with Maker’s Mark or Jack Daniels, it’s not bad considering the price and quality of the whiskey.
Now, there is still a weird taste to it. It just feels like caramel or vanilla flavoring that stands out through the cheap whiskey and neutral grain spirit.
Kentucky Deluxe Price
If you haven’t guessed it yet, this is the real reason people drink Kentucky Deluxe. The price. It’s the reason so many of us drank it, or something similar, during our years in college. 80 proof is 80 proof no matter how much it costs, so if you’re goal is to get drunk, Kentucky Deluxe is a cost-effective way to do so.
A 750ml bottle of Kentucky Deluxe will cost about $6. A full 1.75L handle is just $12.
Most of the whiskey we review, here at Barrel and Brew, typically runs in the $30-50 price range. So, I was certainly excited when I was able to spend $6 to review a whiskey; although, I was considerably less excited to actually drink it.
Kentucky Deluxe Value
Now that we’ve discussed the taste and price, we can point out where the actual value is in a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe. Now, there may not be value to you, but there is value to a bottle. I would never, and I would never recommend someone else to, drink Kentucky Deluxe by itself. However, if you’re going to drink whiskey coke’s all night long, you might as well buy cheap whiskey.
Yes, there are many other cheap whiskeys out there that are better in a whiskey coke, but not many are AS cheap as Kentucky Deluxe. I don’t mind spending the extra money on Jack, Evan Williams, or Jim Beam, but the extra $10 may not be worth it to a college student or someone else.
Kentucky Deluxe Review Summary
I was pleasantly surprised with Kentucky Deluxe. I mean, I was so surprised by the tasting that I went back to try it neat instead of on the rocks. It was pretty awful. However, it’s really not the worst thing on the rocks. I don’t recommend it, but, again, it’s not unbearable.
Our main focus was to understand how much bad whiskey can be covered up by Coca-Cola. These weren’t 20/80 mixed drinks we were making either. It was 50% Kentucky Deluxe and 50% Coke. Well, 50% of Coke covers up 50% of pretty bad whiskey, and it covers it up well.
If you’re goal is to get a buzz or get drunk as cheap as possible, and you plan on mixing your whiskey with soda, Kentucky Deluxe is actually a solid option to choose. Like we said, 80 proof is 80 proof no matter the cost of it.
Below are frequently asked questions regarding Kentucky Deluxe Whiskey. Many of these are answered in the article above.
Why is Kentucky Deluxe Whiskey so Bad?
Kentucky Deluxe is bad (& cheap) because it is a blend of 20% whiskey and 80% neutral grain spirits. It’s more of a vodka with 1/5th of it being true, aged whiskey.
How Much Does Kentucky Deluxe Whiskey Cost?
A 750ml bottle costs about $6 with a full handle going for $12 on average.
How Do You Drink Kentucky Deluxe?
I do not recommend drinking it neat. EVER. However, it’s somewhat bearable when it’s on ice, but still not good. The best way to drink it is with a mixture of Coke or another brown soda.