Prendergast’s Royal Gold Bourbon is a craft bourbon produced by Tom’s Town Distillery in Kansas City. The brand gets its name from corrupt political boss Tom Prendergast who famously ignored prohibition in Kansas City and kept whiskey flowing by using his political influence and police bribes whilst his machine controlled Kansas and Jackson County. As with many young craft distilleries, this bourbon is sourced whilst Tom’s Town’s own stock ages. To leave their mark on this bourbon Tom’s Town further ages this bourbon in 14 year old port wine casks for a period of at least 6 months. When I reached out to Master Distiller Rob Vossmeyer I learned that this bottling features a 5 year old straight Tennessee bourbon, whereas future bottlings will feature a blend between 5 and 10 year old sourced bourbon which will also be finished in ex-port wine barrels.
This bourbon joins a growing number of whiskies that are being finished in ex-wine barrels by distilleries using sourced stock. Although this practice is considered controversial and is frowned upon by some, it shows the dilemma that craft distilleries face when they want to showcase their skills but have to make use of stocks that they have not produced or aged. Although distillers are definitely craftspeople, it is also important to recognize the level of crafting involved in blending and maturing whiskey, as a lot of the flavor of the finished product heavily depends on this. I see this as being a great way to put a personal touch on a sourced product and give the consumer an experience of something different whilst your own stocks are ageing – a warm-up act to set the mood.
Name: Prendergast’s Royal Gold Bourbon
Age: NAS (Confirmed at least 5 years )
Proof: 90 Proof (45% ABV)
Type: Straight Bourbon
Mashbill: Unknown – features corn, rye, wheat, and malted barley
Producer: Tom’s Town Distillery
Source: Unknown (TN Distillery)
Appearance: light gold
Nose: On the nose the port influence is instantly apparent. Complex and sweet notes of cherries, dark berries, and dried citrus fruit combine with deep caramel, floral vanilla, and the earthy/herbaceous notes normally associated with old oak.
Palate: The palate offers deep red fruit notes that are well balanced with intense caramel, floral vanilla, slight citrus and a minty oak spice that makes this pour feel like it’s punching above its 90 proof.
Finish: The finish again gives vanilla, caramel, red fruit and a healthy dose of oak spice that warms the throat and leaves a lovely minty and tannic aftertaste of old musty barrels.
Overall: Whilst the trend of finishing sourced bourbon in ex-wine casks seems to be on the rise, there’s still a lot that can go wrong at the blending stage. In certain cases bad blending has produced whiskies where the influence of the wine casks steamrolls over the original flavors of the whiskey. This bourbon, however, is not one of those cases.
This is a very well balanced bourbon, with the light traditional bourbon flavors associated with a 90 proof bourbon being greatly complimented by the complex, deep, and robust flavors from the port casks. Tom’s Town’s Master Distiller Rob Vossmeyer has produced a great blend and the flavors work well whether it’s enjoyed neat or as part of a cocktail. In my eyes, the current trend of craft distilleries using wine cask finishing to set their product apart is nothing to be afraid of. what we see now is a creative way for distilleries to set their products apart and at the same time (hopefully) produce something that is delicious to drink whether you’re a wine fan or not (I’m not). From this whiskey I have to say that I’m very excited for what the future holds for this little distillery in Kansas.
Try or Buy?
Buy, buy, and buy! Currently, these guys are only available in Kansas and Missouri so buying or trying a bottle might be a bit difficult. However, if you ever find yourself in their neck of the woods down in Kansas City stop in for a tour and there you can both try and buy their whiskey! Otherwise, online might be the only other way you might get a bottle for now but I’ve been told the distribution is set to improve in the next few months- watch this space.