Is putting a celebrity name, real or otherwise, onto a fancy bottle a way to draw attention to a product such as a whiskey? Perhaps. Bourbon, when you consider its macho image, seems like a natural fit for the oil tycoon J.R. Ewing from the television show Dallas. Now comes along another "linked to a rugged guy" spirit in the form of Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Duke, if you hadn't guessed it, refers to John Wayne, the famous actor nicknamed "The Duke" that was portrayed through much of his career for the masculine roles he played in Westerns and other genre flicks. Those behind this new bourbon, Monument Valley Distillers, worked with Ethan Wayne, a partner and also John's son, to create a whiskey that "embodies the spirit, strength and richness" of the now deceased star.
To help create the overall profile and image for this bourbon the distillers worked with original bottles dating back to the early 1960s from John Wayne's private collection. From this, and making use of Kentucky whiskey, Jayson Woodbridge, along with Chris Radomski and their team, blended what's described as "rare batches" to recreate flavors and aromas the actor might have preferred. During this process aging of the bottled 88 proof product, made up of a mix said to contain whiskies up to 10 years of age, happened in new, heavily charred American oak barrels
Monument Valley Distillers recently also created a small batch of 24 year old brandy under the moniker Duke Spirits that priced at a hefty $350. The bourbon, by contrast, should be hitting store shelves in select markets now for around $35. Both offerings aim to capture what is said to be the great tradition of The Duke.