Review: Middle West Spirits OYO Vodka and OYO Whiskey

oyo vodkaColumbus, Ohio-based Middle West Spirits produces a variety of vodkas and whiskeys, but these two, pronounced Oh-Why-Oh, are the base products from which everything else is drawn.

Thoughts follow.

OYO Vodka – Made from local red winter wheat, this (purported) 34-times column distilled vodka has lots of character. On the nose, there are lots of caramel and grain notes — making this much more akin to a white whiskey than a vodka — and a minimum of medicinal character. On the tongue the vodka’s roots come out, with a modestly astringent backbone and a warming, grain-forward body. There’s some citrus in there followed by more caramel, coming together to give this vodka a bit of a caramel apple feel in the end. However, a sense of mustiness on the finish, almost like sweat, dulls the overall experience a bit. 80 proof. Kosher. Reviewed: Batch #028. B / $33

OYO Whiskey – 100% Ohio red winter wheat again, this time barreled in white American oak, albeit with no age statement. Lots of young whiskey character here. Huge, fresh grain on the nose, with a bracing citrus undercarriage. The body is equally powerful; lots of young whiskey notes hit you with that rush of grain at first, then things smooth over as the chewy, caramel-flecked body takes hold. There’s a touch of bitter orange in there, and some hazelnut, too. The finish is woodier than you’d think — I suspect smaller barrels are used in the making of this spirit, giving it lots of wood character while leaving the grain at its core intact. But as with many younger whiskeys, balance is something of a problem here, with grains, sugar, and oily wood notes all colliding a bit roughly. Fortunately, the wheat’s smoothness tends to make this more than drinkable in the end. 92 proof. Reviewed: Batch #013. B / $51 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

middlewestspirits.com

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