New Spirits Brand: Old Carter Whiskey Co.
Nov 23, 2019
by Brandon Bartlett, WW Spirits Director
Maybe it’s a French oak barrel from the Allier Forrest or a 53-gallon Bourbon barrel made of American oak from the Ozarks—either way, it seems that every barrel that Mark and Sherri Carter get their hands on turns to liquid gold. The company that owns Stolichnaya Vodka sure thought so when they bought the Kentucky Owl brand from the Carters and their partner in early 2017. Instead of having a “Been there, done that” attitude, the Carters went out the very next day after the sale of Kentucky Owl was finalized and started looking for more whiskey that they felt met the standard for their new brand: Old Carter. And when you’re one of the few winemakers in America who can boast of having made at least nine different 100-point wines, that flavor standard is pretty high.
It’s really wine that that got them into making whiskey. Mark started out as a successful builder in Eureka, California. In 1980 he decided to build himself a Victorian house and got a little carried away. That house became a bed and breakfast called The Carter House, which eventually won California Magazine’s “Best Bed and Breakfast.” A restaurant soon followed. Eventually, Mark built his wine list to over 4,000 bottles. In 1998, his Carter House Inn was finally presented with the “Grand Award” from the Wine Spectator. From there he started making his own wine under the Carter and Envy labels out of Napa.
After the great success of making their own wines, the Carters decided to try their hand at whiskey. As it turns out, they had quite a knack for picking just the right barrels to blend and bottle, becoming a Kentucky only “Unicorn brand” that was very hard to get a hold of and in high demand. Now that that brand has been sold and they’ve started Old Carter Whiskey Co., nothing has changed. They’ve struck [liquid] gold again by using their relationships with distillers in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee to blend together amazing bottlings of uncut, barrel strength bourbon, rye, and American whiskies. Old Carter has been Kentucky-only since its release last year. With the Carters being based in California where their Inn and vineyards are located, they thought it only appropriate to offer some of their award winning whiskey to California as well. For the time being, Old Carter Whiskey Co. will only be available in Kentucky and California. Only 1,269 bottles were produced for batch #1 and subsequently the next batches were 1,567 bottles and 1,289 bottles. The bottom line is this big, bold, smooth, flavor-packed, cask strength whiskey is sure to be award-winning, hard to get, premium-priced, collectible—and yes, DELICIOUS!
Quick facts about Old Carter Whiskey Co:
- Specializing in small batch blends and exceptional single barrel releases of Straight Bourbons, Ryes, and American Whiskeys
- Sourcing aged barrels as well as producing new batches in Kentucky
- Releasing only barrel-strength, non-filtered expressions
- Husband and wife team handle all aspects of operations from selecting to blending, all package design and hand-numbering each batch
- Label designed by Sherri, featuring an original wood-cut she created which was the first piece of artwork Mark purchased from her in 2001
- Currently own and operate a winery in Napa producing 100 point wines under the Carter Cellars label
- Own property in Kentucky housing Old Carter Showrooms in Lexington as well as Louisville, Kentucky (currently under construction, opening Spring 2020)