We begin our Bottom Shelf Dweller journey with a bottle of the infamous Kentucky Deluxe.

Type: Kentucky Blended Whiskey
Price (750ml): $5.99
Proof: 80 (40% abv)
Distillery: Kentucky Deluxe Distilling Co.
Location: Bardstown, KY

A staple of every liquor store’s bottom whiskey shelf, Kentucky Deluxe may be a familiar name. Many budget-minded young people have sought it out for its value, alcohol content, and purported status as a “whiskey.” Often concealed in a brown paper bag, the liquid inside is also brown – another clue that may lead one to believe that this is whiskey. Is it? Is it not? The bottle says it is, so it must be! Stay tuned.

From whence has this Kentucky whiskey come? You guessed it! Kentucky. They really want you to know that it is definitely from the same state that makes bourbon. It isn’t a bourbon, but it’s made where bourbon is made, so it must be decent, right? We’ll soon find out!

The distillery we have to thank for this alcoholic beverage may surprise you. Heaven Hill is responsible for producing this concoction. Given their stable of thoroughbreds – Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Henry McKenna, Larceny – you may be inclined to give Kentucky Deluxe the benefit of the doubt. Surely these people know what they’re doing! They make some excellent bourbons.

It is in a glass bottle, at least. Although it does come in a convenient, “hide your alcoholism” 350ml plastic bottle also. You may have noticed some other red flags. It’s a “Kentucky Blended Whiskey.” What’s that mean? Well, it is made in Kentucky. And they do make bourbon there. It’s a fact, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Still, this alleged Deluxe liquid is not a bourbon. It’s a “blended whiskey.” In this case, that means it’s not all whiskey. It’s whiskey mixed with some other fun stuff! In the case of this beauty, it’s “20% Kentucky straight whiskey and 80% grain neutral spirits, aged 36 months.” That’s from the small print on the bottleneck, hidden like some dangerous side effect.

Now, blended whiskeys aren’t all bad. Some are blends of actual whiskeys. They’re 100% whiskey, just not all the same whiskey. Those can be great, even amazing. Blood Oath is an excellent blend and is worth checking out if you can find it at a decent price. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re working with when we crack open Kentucky Deluxe.


First sip: -1 out of 5
I’m not a particularly good guy. I’m not a particularly bad guy, either. I’ve made some mistakes, I’m not perfect. I’ve even hurt some feelings in the past. I’m not proud of it.

This beverage – if you can honestly call it that – tastes like penance for a lifetime of malfeasance. It tastes like you deserve to be punished. It tastes like liquid masochism. I gave it negative points. Heaven Hill actually owes me points.

Alright, maybe it gets better after the first sip?

Neat: -1 out of 5
I drink my whiskey like God made it, room temperature with nothing in it. Bottle – glass – mouth – belly. It’s a simple process. When consumed neat, this tastes like someone poured rubbing alcohol into a bottle that once contained whiskey. It tastes like your breath after a night of hard drinking, except somehow with less flavor. Negative points again. The only upside is that my mouth does feel like I’ve just swished with Listerine, so I guess it’s passable as an antiseptic.

Mixed: 0 out of 5
I honestly can’t even recommend that you mix this unHoly potion with any drink you normally enjoy. This will ruin it. Then it will hunt down your memories of it and it will ruin those, too. Like friends once mutual between you and your ex, Kentucky Deluxe will taint it forever.

Overall: Vomit out of 5
If you hate yourself and you’re looking to grimace through every taste of your next drink, pick up a bottle of Kentucky Deluxe. Whatever marketing guy decided to give it that name should be prosecuted for assault on the word Deluxe. I’m not going to say I wouldn’t wish this on anyone because there’s nothing I wouldn’t wish on Hitler, but they’d really have to have earned it. You could probably use it to clean your car’s engine or a gaping gunshot wound, I just wouldn’t recommend drinking it.

I’ll keep hunting, you keep drinking. Slainté!