IT'S O! SO GOOD TO BE BACK!
It wasn’t until 2014, under the guidance of industry veteran Dave Pickerell, that the plan fully came to fruition, driving Andy to quit his job in Dallas and move back to KC to dive fully into the distillery. After securing a building in the historic East Bottoms neighborhood of Kansas City and following months of product formulation, the relaunch was ready. By October 2014, nearly four years after first meeting, Andy and Ryan had successfully relaunched the brand with the release of Rieger’s Kansas City Whiskey.
Because J. Rieger & Co. was historically a Whiskey-focused company, Andy and Ryan wanted a Whiskey to be the first product. In doing extensive research on the styles and methods of production for American Whiskey in the 1880s, we learned that using Sherry as a blending agent was a common practice. While a plan was in place to build a fully-functioning distillery to make whiskeys in-house, our first release would become a blend of some of the best barrels we could find. Sourcing Corn Whiskey as well as Straight Rye Whiskey, we selected a 15 year Oloroso Sherry from the Williams & Humbert Bodega out of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, thanks to our good friend and advisor Steve Olson, to add to the blend. After many months of recipe development and legal hurdles, on October 30, 2014, Kansas City Whiskey was formally launched at the 100-year anniversary celebration of the opening of Union Station, a fitting tie to our historical legacy. Kansas City Whiskey quickly garnered national attention, being named in the Top 4 for International Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient at the 2015 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
A few months after the release of Kansas City Whiskey, Head Distiller Nathan Perry joined the team to learn under the mentorship of Dave Pickerell. By May of 2015, our 750-gallon copper Vendome still became operational, and daily fermentation and distillation began. From there, we’ve been able to expand our product offering first with Premium Wheat Vodka in 2015. In July 2015, legendary gin master distiller Tom Nichol became a partner in J. Rieger & Co. and helped us develop Midwestern Dry Gin while teaching Nathan and the team of Assistant Distillers the tricks of distilling Gin in the classic London Dry Style. In 2016, we added a Caffè Amaro, a first of its kind bittersweet coffee liqueur to our lineup.
In 2021 our earliest barrels turned 6 years old and were finally ready for bottling. On August 16, 2021 we released Rieger’s Bottled in Bond Straight Rye Whiskey, the first whiskey distilled in Kansas City since Prohibition. The following summer our first Bottled in Bond Straight Bourbon was released in June 2022 also after 6 years of aging.
With the goal of reestablishing J. Rieger & Co. as one of the finest Whiskey producers in the country, our annual barrel production has increased every year since we began distilling in 2015. Today we are distilling more than 1,200 barrels of Rye and Bourbon Whiskey annually that are all allowed to age for a minimum of 4 years in our rickhouse.
We are deeply appreciative of the opportunity to share our history and our products with the world and look forward to continually honoring Jacob’s legacy in everything we do. Thank you for being part of the Rieger family.