Approachable root beer, cinnamon and sweet tea flavours make Chicken Cock a cinch for freshman shooters. However, while its makers have been inspired by a 157-year-old legacy, the Chicken Cock of yore was bourbon or rye. And though the label says whiskey, this Chicken Cock clearly strays into flavoured vodka territory. Originally established in 1856 in Paris, Kentucky, if the press release has it right, Chicken Cock quickly became a significant 19th century bourbon brand. The oldest version I could find (pictured above) was straight Canadian rye from the 1920s.
That’s because once Prohibition shut down production in the U.S., Distillers Corporation Limited, of Montréal, bought the brand name and gave it to one of its long-aged ryes. For ease of transport, they packaged it in tin cans. Chicken Cock was smuggled across the border into the northern states in these cans with no fear of breakage. There it rose to fame as a popular pour at some of the era’s most famous speakeasies.