Old Crow Bourbon Deserves Respect for many reasons.

Before you dismiss this as a tale of a run-of-the-mill whiskey, consider this: a bottle of 1968 Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a testament to its historical significance, is currently valued at a staggering $1799.00. This is not your average bottom-shelf find but a glimpse into the past glory of a brand that commands respect and admiration. Read on to find out why Old Crow Bourbon deserves respect.

James C. Crow

The impact of James Crow on the whiskey industry is immeasurable. In the 1830s, his whiskey was known simply as “Crow” or “Old Crow” for those seeking a more mature product, even if it was as young as three years. His legacy continued after he died in 1856, with the W.A. Gaines Company purchasing the brand and following his production methods, including hiring a former assistant to James Crow as Master Distiller.

He impacted multiple distilleries.

We may never know how many small distilleries in Kentucky were assisted by Dr. Crow. We know he worked at Grier’s Creek Distillery in 1835, where he began to perfect his sour mash process. Later, he moved on to the Old Oscar Pepper Distillery, which became Labrot & Graham, which you would now know as Woodford Reserve. Oscar Pepper also built the Old Crow Distillery in honor of Mr. Crow in 1860.  After working for Oscar Pepper for many years, Crow moved on to the H. Johnson Distillery. The Johnson Distillery would become E. H. Taylor and Sons Distillery, and after prohibition, it was known as Old Taylor. Today, that property is operating as Castle and Key.

Today’s Old Crow Bourbon Whiskey

When Jim Beam acquired Old Crow from National Distillers in 1987, they began using the same mash bill as Jim Beam for Old Crow but sold at a younger age. Today, there is no direct connection between the recipe and processes of the historic Old Crow Bourbon and the modern version except for using the name. One way to sample a bit of Old Crow history would be to stop by Glenn’s Creek Distillery at the former Old Crow Distillery site. Owner David Meier has recreated a whiskey in the style of Dr. Crow. A visit there is highly recommended for a very different take on the manufacture of Kentucky Bourbon.

Old Crow Traveler Bottle

This unique bottle was created so that Old Crow enthusiasts could take their bourbon and drink it while on the move. The removable cap also served as a cup or glass to sample your whiskey. These bottles were made in the 1960s and 1970s for traveling businesspeople. The bottle was designed to fit in an inside coat pocket. In the ad below, it is offered as the tuckaway fifth that packs as flat as your shirt. This was a magazine ad placed in Life Magazine in 1967. The whiskey in these bottles was typically aged six years, but there is no specific age statement for these releases. Today, you can purchase one on the secondary market for about $1100.  I was able to review and sample this whiskey courtesy of my good friend Raj Patel, who generously offered a sample from his collection. You can watch our review HERE.

Advertisement for the Old Crow Traveler Bottle

Is Old Crow the best-selling bourbon in the Land?

Old Crow became legendary in the 1800’s and was preferred by famous people. Andrew Jackson, Mark Twain, and Daniel Webster preferred Old Crow. Henry Clay once personally visited James Crow and ordered a barrel of Old Crow to be returned to Washington. In 1961, Old Crow was the leading brand in the country. It is a shame how far this whiskey has fallen. I sincerely hope and encourage Beam Suntory, known as Suntory Worldwide, to dedicate a re-issue of this once almost mystical whiskey with a whiskey profile that would honor the rich history of James Crow.

The Abandoned Old Crow Distillery

If you want to see the remnants of the Old Crow Distillery, please check out one of the most popular blog posts I have written. It has been read by thousands of bourbon enthusiasts. You can access that post HERE.