John Wayne’s Legacy Lives on With Duke Spirits Bourbon

John Wayne Duke Spirits Bourbon
Source: Duke Spirits/Shutterstock

Sep. 3 2019, Published 5:29 p.m. ET

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Go back in time with … bourbon? John Wayne was not only known for being an American icon, actor and adventurer but he also had an extreme passion for spirits. Duke Spirits crafted their Kentucky bourbon using handwritten notes from the True Grit star.

After his death, a reserve of bottles dating back to 1962 was unearthed along with recipes containing his favorite blends. Now, you can drink like the Duke, too.

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“Yes, it’s John Wayne, who’s obviously a very famous person, but … he was the most incredible person, the most incredible artisan and craftsman of his time. Be it film, be it whatever the man did, he did it with intense devotion and a no stone left unturned kind of thing,” Chris Radomski, one of the creators of Duke Spirits exclusively told

He added, “He had this great recipe, it was very different than any of the bourbons being made today.”


Chris worked with John’s son, Ethan Wayne, to create the bourbon, which he describes as “a nod to back in time when things were done differently.” The Napa Valley vintner explained, “The way those people drank, they didn’t have mixers or mixologists … they drank it neat so it had to stand up neat. And the quality of that really reflects that.”

John was known for saying that, if he had to drink, “it had to be a good one,” and Chris divulged that Duke Spirits was determined to deliver something of that standard.

“It’s exceptionally balanced but has the great cinnamon notes, vanilla notes, the punch at the end. It doesn’t knock you off your feet but it’s just strong enough,” he said about the bourbon.


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