Category Archives: White Whiskey/Moonshine

Review: American Born Moonshine

ABM 3 Bottles on white 525x511 Review: American Born Moonshine

Moonshine continues to grow as a category, and this Nashville-based producer, founded in 2012, is getting its first products on the market in its home state, plus four others. Featuring mason jar bottles with a custom pouring system built into the lid, the company aims to class up an (often intentionally) unsexy industry.

Purportedly made from a 200 year old recipe, American Born Moonshine uses a 100% corn mash that’s sweetened with sugar. Two flavored (and lower-proof) versions are also on the market. We tasted them all, straight out of mini Mason jars.

Thoughts follow.

American Born Moonshine Original White Lightning – Unaged and overproof, this moonshine is the legit stuff. Popcorn and cane sugar on the nose, it’s got a surprising level of refinement lacking from most moonshines, presenting some measure of balance from the start. On the tongue, the popcorn fades to reveal more sweetness, almost like that from grape juice, plus notes of toasted marshmallow, marzipan, and nougat. Sippable on its own, but more intriguing as a mixer, and one of the best white corn whiskeys you’ll find on the market right now. 103 proof. A-

American Born Moonshine Apple Pie - One of the most popular of flavors for moonshines these days, American Born’s apple pie flavored ‘shine is heavier on tart apple notes and lighter on those traditional apple spice characters like cinnamon and cloves. The nose hints at more, but the juicy body is more akin to cider than pie. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not exactly what’s on the label — and who wants a glass of juice when they could be eating pie? 83 proof. B

American Born Moonshine Dixie Sweet Tea - Tea flavoring has been fading from the vodka world for a while, but here it shows its face again. In fact, the company claims this is the first sweet tea-flavored moonshine on the market. ABM’s rendition is sweet first, tea second, though both components come through in spades. The slightly corny finish adds an interesting spin, but I can’t say I prefer it to a more straightforward tea-flavored vodka. As with its compatriots, it’s easily enjoyable on the whole. 83 proof. A-

each $25 / americanbornmoonshine.com

Review: Spirits of Santa Fe Spirits

santa fe apple brandy 525x323 Review: Spirits of Santa Fe Spirits

Santa Fe Spirits is based, you guessed it, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Founded by Colin Keegan in 2010, the company now offers a range of five spirits, all with a southwestern bent and primarily column-distilled. We tasted four of them (all but the aged, single malt whiskey). Thoughts follow.

Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy – This was Santa Fe’s first product, made from New Mexico-grown Mountain West apples, including some from Keegan’s own orchard. Barrel aged “for years.” Big, punchy nose. It’s got mashed apples, sure, but lots of wood, and some coal fire character to it. The body is on the oily side, burly with overpowering wood notes and a big, tannic finish. Overall: A curiosity that never quite pulls it all together. C+ / $45

Santa Fe Spirits Wheeler’s Western Dry Gin – A newfangled infusion and the most avant garde of the bunch. This gun includes only botanicals that are sourced from within 30 miles of the distillery: white desert sage, Cholla cactus blossoms, osha root, Cascade hops, and local juniper. My first cactus-infused gin! The nose is a delight. Quite citrusy, like Meyer lemon, with distinct sage notes. On the body, those hops come through right away, while the sage and citrus character lingers. All of these things balance quite well, though the hops tend to dominate a bit too heavily. 80 proof (it could have stood to be 86, in my opinion). B+ / $32

Santa Fe Spirits Silver Coyote Pure Malt Whiskey – Made from 100% malted barley and bottled as unaged white dog. A lighter style of white dog, relatively restrained (comparatively) with a curious mix of grain and slate notes on the nose. The body isn’t overly complex, wearing its maltiness and youthful barley notes on its sleeve, with a lightly vegetal finish. Think green beans and sweet potatoes. Or competently made white lightning, anyway. 92 proof. B+ / $30

Santa Fe Spirits Expedition American West Vodka – 6 times distilled from a corn base. Interesting nose here, supple and sweet but not overdone. It’s not at all “corny,” but the aroma is almost like a nice bit of cotton candy or marshmallow. On the body, similar notes prevail, with a subtle fruitiness that recalls apples and banana. The finish has a touch of medicinal burn, but by and large it’s a smooth operator that offers a modern profile balanced by a restrained and refined backbone. 80 proof. A / $25

Note: This quartet is available in a four-pack of 200ml bottles. Total price: $55.

santafespirits.com

Review: George Dickel White Whisky Foundation No. 1

Dickel No. 1 2 525x1001 Review: George Dickel White Whisky Foundation No. 1

Just when it seems that everyone who’s anyone in American distilling has launched a white whiskey, well, you realize there’s room for one more.

The latest coming out the gate is Dickel, which is bringing its Tennessee Whiskey — bourbon-style mash of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley, but charcoal-filtered before bottling — to the unaged universe. Appropriately known as George Dickel Foundation No. 1, it’s the base spirit that’s used for all of Dickel’s aged bottlings.

No. 1 doesn’t launch until January 2014, but we got a sneak peek. Thoughts follow.

Pure popcorn, straight from the movie theater holding bin. Some peanut notes add intrigue to the nose, but otherwise this is the essence of corn whiskey. The body is surprisingly easygoing — that charcoal filtering is surprisingly effective at washing away those often overbearing raw alcohol notes — though No. 1 makes few bones about its grainy makeup. Whether you’re thinking about fresh popping corn or chawing on Corn Nuts, the analogy is about the same. Wait, did I mention the corn?

You can really taste the family resemblance between Dickel No. 1 with Dickel No. 8, which makes sense because it’s the youngest and simplest of the aged whiskeys Dickel offers. As the Dickel family gets older in No. 12 and Barrel Select, the vanilla notes driven by the barrel begin to crowd the corniness out.

As for No. 1, it’s a totally worthwhile white dog, and the charcoal filtering is a distinct advantage here. Better yet, it’s  not wildly overpriced like Jack Daniel’s clear offering is. (That said, Dickel rarely costs more than 20 bucks a bottle.) All in all: It isn’t as tasty as the aged stuff — white dog rarely is — but it’s a solid white lightning.

91 proof.

B / $22 / dickel.com

Review: Anchor Distilling White Christmas White Whiskey

Anchor White Christmas 497x1200 Review: Anchor Distilling White Christmas White Whiskey

Here’s a first: A limited edition white whiskey, created by San Francisco’s Anchor Distilling exclusively for the 2013 holiday season.

It’s a neat idea. Every year Anchor’s brewing arm cooks up a special — and always unique — Christmas Ale. 2013′s White Christmas whiskey is distilled from the 2012 Christmas Ale, hence the whiskey’s subtitle, “The Spirit of Christmas Past.”

Twice distilled and unaged, the beer’s spicier elements come through clearly — so much so that you might do a double take and think you’re drinking gin. Orange peel, juniper berries, cloves, and cardamom notes are all present, but they’re atop an earthy, mushroomy core. The nose is light, the body rich but not overwhelming — and without the overwhelmingly hoary funkiness that’s so common with white dog. Sure, white whiskeys don’t often dazzle with nuance or depth, but as the category goes, this is one of the more unique, worthwhile, and drinkable white whiskeys I’ve encountered in recent months.

90 proof. Available in California only.

B+ / $50 / anchordistilling.com

Review: Batch 206 Vodkas, Gin, and Moonshine

BATCH206 VODKA BOTTLE 114x300 Review: Batch 206 Vodkas, Gin, and MoonshineSeattle-based Batch 206 is a craft distillery focused on hyperlocal raw materials — just about all of its source materials are from the Pacific Northwest. The company cooks up its goodies in a variety of stills, including a unique hybrid pot/column still, and most are filtered heavily through coconut husk charcoal before bottling. Thoughts on four of the company’s primary spirits follow.

Batch 206 Vodka – Hand-crafted and micro-batched it may be, this vodka, crafted from red winter wheat and malted barley, is one of the sweetest I’ve seen. Lush with honey notes up front, it isn’t until you’re well into tasting that the more traditional medicinality comes forth. You’ll have to push past lots of marshmallow notes to get to this vodka’s core… but it’s there, if you go a-huntin’. 80 proof. B / $25

Batch 206 Counter Gin – A modern American gin. The core is seemingly based on 206′s vodka as a base. It’s then flavored, per the company, with “juniper berries from Albania, whole cucumbers from Seattle’s Pike Place Market, tarragon and verbena leaves from Provence, lavender flowers from Sequim, Washington, and orange peel from Seville, Spain, along with Floridian Meyer lemon peel and English orris root as minor constituents.” The fresh nose is driven by the orange peel and juniper, but neither is overdone. These are also big on the body, and some floral characteristics come along next, slightly earthy (the verbena?) notes overwhelming the lavender, which can be a real downer in a gin. The finish is long, slightly sweet (just like the vodka), with some spiciness evident as well. I’d love to see this gin with a little black pepper in it to pump that component up a bit. Meanwhile, try it in a sweeter cocktail. 80 proof. B+ / $25

Batch 206 See 7 Stars Moonshine – Old-school white whiskey, crafted from a mash of Columbia Basin corn and Washington malted barley. Sweet, distinct caramel notes on the nose. The body’s got ample popcorn and plenty of peppery heat, thanks to its higher, heftier proof level and finishes with hints of sugar. Not terribly overwhelming, but not overly complex, either. This is a credible white dog driven by its constituent grain components. Treat appropriately. 100 proof. B / $28

Batch 206 Mad Mint Vodka – Peppermint-infused, overproof vodka, sweetened with local beet sugar. (The mint is Washington-grown, too.) The nose is a perfect recreation of an Andes mint — chocolate and mint, sandwiched together. It’s almost enough fun just to smell it. Of course, the body can’t compare… it’s half alcohol, after all. It’s got the essence of mint and a touch of cocoa here, injected with plenty of raw power. It grows on you wickedly… I presume driving the name of the spirit. Not exactly refined, but it is fun stuff. 100 proof. A- / $27

batch206.com

Review: Firefly White Lightning Moonshine and Apple Pie Moonshine

Firefly Moonshine Rocks 525x349 Review: Firefly White Lightning Moonshine and Apple Pie Moonshine

I’m a big fan of Firefly’s tea-flavored vodka, probably the best on the market. Recently the distillery, based in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, branched out into moonshine — unaged “raw corn whiskey,” available unflavored or in one of five different flavored versions. We got both the pure stuff and one of the flavors. Thoughts — surprising thoughts — follow. 

Firefly White Lightning Moonshine – Popcorn nose, almost buttery. From the sharp nose you might think you’re in for a rough and rustic body, but that’s not the case. This White Lightning is surprisingly silky, presumably sweetened but not overdone, this is spicy (over 100 proof) but flavorful, driven by its corn origins but mellowed out with a glazing of sugar. That’s not a slight. This may be moonshine, but it tempers its frontier heritage with a sweetness that’s wholly appropriate. 100.7 proof. B+

Firefly Apple Pie Moonshine – I’ve had apple pie-flavored spirits before, but this is the first time I’ve had one that gets all the components of the dessert in one little shot. It’s all here: apples, cinnamon, caramel, and pie crust. As with Firefly’s masterful tea-flavored vodka, this proves how flavored spirits can be crafted with intelligence, and without being crammed full of as much sugar as possible. This is sweet, but an apple pie is also sweet. Like a well-made pie, Firefly has figured out the balance of the equation (low alcohol doesn’t hurt here), and I have to give them props on that count. 60.3 proof. A

each $20 / fireflymoonshine.com

Review: 2bar Spirits Vodka and Moonshine

2bar moonshine 525x525 Review: 2bar Spirits Vodka and Moonshine

Seattle-based 2bar Spirits is a craft distillery named after a ranch that was part of the owners’ family for generations… before they decided to trade South Texas for Washington and hooves for hooch. The company makes two spirits, both unaged. We got ‘em both. Thoughts follow.

Both spirits are 80 proof.

2bar Spirits Vodka – Distilled from local Washington wheat, this vodka has a strong white dog character to it, full of grainy cereal notes on the nose. But the body is balanced by a silky body and some sweetness — think of a very lightly sweetened breakfast cereal — giving it a touch of marshmallow character. The finish brings on some of the lighter medicinal notes that vodka fans will find familiar… while fading out with a return to light notes of grain. The overall impression is closer to a white whiskey than a vodka, and maybe that’s OK. White lightning is often too harsh and overpowering for easy consumption. Here things are dialed back enough to make it easier to sip on, while still residing in the vodkaverse. 80 proof. B+ / $33

2bar Spirits Moonshine – Distilled from local corn instead of wheat. Very easygoing nose, slightly sweet. The body is downright shocking: It’s milder and sweeter than the Vodka, a little flabby in its construction, the palate offering an easy mix of Corn Pops cereal and the lightest dusting of honey. This is a much more easy-to-sip spirit, and while it isn’t the most complex of things, its light notes of licorice and milk chocolate add nuance to what is often a straightforward and unsatisfying category. With its moonshine, 2bar proves that white whiskey can be engaging and fun, leaving the drinker with nary a grimace to be made. A- / $30

2barspirits.com

Review: Colorado Gold Bourbon and Corn Whiskey

colorados own corn whiskey 525x445 Review: Colorado Gold Bourbon and Corn Whiskey

Colorado continues to rise as a key craft distilling region. One of the vanguards is Colorado Gold, a company out of Cedaredge, which was established in 2007. The company makes a full range of spirits, and today we’re looking at two of its most popular ones, both whiskeys, and very different ones at that. Thoughts follow.

Colorado Gold Straight Bourbon Whiskey – Young stuff, but quite engaging. Made from a mash of 65% corn, 15% rye, 10% wheat, and 10% malted barley, and aged for three years in a new char #3 American oak barrel. There’s ample wood on the nose, balanced with a touch of citrus, a bit of menthol. The body takes things to a similar place — a good slug of wood, mild caramel, with some dusty, coal-fire notes on the finish. Pleasant but not overly nuanced, this is a surprisingly simple bourbon, but with the often abrasive corn/grain notes you find in so many craft bourbons mercifully stripped out. There’s ample wood, but it’s balanced with clever touches of marshmallow, vanilla, and orange oil, turning slightly bitter as the finish fades. I’m both impressed and intrigued. 80 proof. Reviewed: Barrel #8, bottle #79, distilled 1/19/13. B+ / $43

Colorado’s Own Corn Whiskey – Colorado Gold’s top selling product. Made from a mash of 85% corn, 10% wheat, and 5% malted barley and aged for 6 months in a fresh-dumped Colorado Gold (see above) bourbon barrel. This is lightly aged corn whiskey, emphasis on light — it’s got the barest shade of yellow tinting it. This is surprisingly easy to drink. It’s not at all harsh or overloaded with corn, rather a light and pleasant spirit that features simple vanilla caramel notes backed with touches of corn chips. A fruity character comes on in the finish — peaches, perhaps — before some dusty wood notes bring up the rear. Surprisingly fun stuff. 80 proof. B+ / $27

coloradogolddistillers.com

Review: Teeling Whiskey Company Irish Whiskey and Poitin

Teeling 21 Yr Old Single Malt Silver Reserve 258x300 Review: Teeling Whiskey Company Irish Whiskey and PoitinWe don’t see a lot of new Irish whiskey brands on the market, so when a curiosity like Teeling comes around, Drinkhacker takes note. The Teeling Whiskey Company (aka TWC) is a new brand with some surprisingly old stock. Founder Jack Teeling has roots in the Irish biz dating back to the late 1700s, and now he’s bringing the family business back with this independent distillery.

Mashbill information is a little complicated, so here it is from TWC’s Teeling: “Both [the whiskey and poitin] are a blend of grain and malt whiskey mashbills. The grain mashbill is 95% maize and 5% malted barley, and the malt mashbill is 100% malted barley. The blend of both consists of 35% malt whiskey (or spirit in the case of the Poitin) and 65% grain whiskey (or spirit in the case of the Poitin).” Got it?

Teeling Whiskey Company Poitin – Ah, Ireland’s white whiskey made from who-knows-what (but see above in TWC’s case), and it’s got a lot going on. The nose is fragrant and intriguing: rustic and young, but with notes of lemongrass, black pepper, and hot coals. Fiery at a blazing 123 proof, the body still shows some charms even without water: marshmallows, orange flowers, and a finish of burning embers. It’s complex yet curious, a white whiskey made the way it really ought to be. High-test white spirits like this always need some coaxing to bring out their charms, but Teeling’s does it quite a bit better than most. B+ / $42 (500ml) [BUY IT NOW FROM MASTER OF MALT]

Teeling Whiskey Company Small Batch Irish Whiskey - Small batch whiskey, bottled with no age statement (but blended from hand-selected casks aged between 4 and 7 years old), but finished in ex-Flor de Cana rum casks. The combo makes for some unusual and quite delicious flavors. The nose offers sweet vanilla, creme brulee and very light wood notes. Elusive, but engaging. On the tongue, it’s quite sweet, but kicked up a bit from the rum, with some fun citrus notes, more of a chocolate marshmallow back-end, and a silky smooth finish. The whiskey and rum are working well together here — that doesn’t always happen — offering a sizeable bite, but one which is tempered with ample (yet balanced) sweetness. Really good stuff, with ample depth. Reviewed: Edition bottled 2/2013. 92 proof. A / $53 [BUY IT NOW FROM MASTER OF MALT]  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Teeling Whiskey Company 21 Year Old Silver Vintage Reserve 1991 Irish Whiskey (pictured) - Unlike the above, this is single malt Irish. 21 years old, at that. 21 year old Irish sounds like it’s going to be incredible, but this is a case where things have gone a bit too far. The lively amber color doesn’t let on to what’s in store, which starts to reveal itself with a malty, bread-like nose. The body offers more of that — a really intense grain character that comes off as fully unexpected in a whiskey this well-aged. Where is the sweetness? Where is the spice? These characteristics are hinted at on the finish, but here you also get more heavy barrel char notes that outweigh any fruity sweetness that remains in the spirit. Interesting enough as a sipper, but a huge letdown from my admittedly high expectations. 92 proof. B / $217

teelingwhiskey.com

Review: TOPO Vodka, Gin, and Carolina Whiskey

topo piedmont gin 208x300 Review: TOPO Vodka, Gin, and Carolina WhiskeyTop of the Hill Distillery, affectionately “TOPO,” promises its spirits are “100 miles from grain to glass.” That’d be more comforting if I was closer to North Carolina, where TOPO is based. Good luck finding these farther afield. Fortunately, I was able to sample the full lineup of three unaged spirits from way out here in California. Thoughts on these organic spirits follow.

TOPO Vodka – Made from organic Carolina wheat. Whew, pungent on the nose, redolent of a typical white whiskey, with lots of grain aromas filling the nostrils. On the tongue, it belies that funky nose with a brisk sweetness, almost marshmallow-like in character, with a pungent medicinal character underneath. Kind of a strange combination. There’s a lot going on here, and those that like their vodka on the more rustic side will find plenty to enjoy. On the other hand, if you’re looking for balance and refinement, TOPO’s definitely got some growing up to do. 80 proof. B- / $29

TOPO Piedmont Gin – Also an organic wheat spirit. Piedmont, I’m guessing, refers not to Italy but to a big swath of area that runs along the eastern seaboard and crosses straight through central North Carolina. (Now you know!) But whatever the nomenclature, it’s an American style gin flavored with ample juniper, cardamom, coriander, star anise, and organic cucumber. On the nose there’s ample juniper, so much so that you might think TOPO Gin is going to be a one-trick pony. Take a sip and you’re in for a surprise: The juniper fades. Sweet licorice notes, floral snippets, and hints of orange peel arise in its wake. What’s most surprising is the kind of candied flower finish. Either that, or that my tasting notes bear no resemblance to those of TOPO’s. 92 proof. A- / $29

TOPO Carolina Whiskey – Like the above, this is young whiskey based on organic Carolina wheat. It has a lot in common with the vodka, too, as you might expect. It is, however, considerably more pungent (distilled fewer times and likely more pot-distilled spirit than in the vodka, I’d guess), full of deep grain and traditional fuel-driven notes on the nose. The body is of greater interest, loaded with chewy sweetness, plus plenty of cereal notes. The effect is not unlike a good granola bar, breakfast and dessert all in one package. It’s not overblown, but surprisingly well balanced among its various characteristics. As white whiskeys go — which is often a Bad News Bears situation — it’s one of the better ones around. 84 proof. B+ / $22

topodistillery.com

Review: Whiskeys of Fog’s End Distillery

Fogs End White Dog 300 2 128x300 Review: Whiskeys of Fogs End DistilleryDown in Gonzales, California — where, based on my travels, there’s plenty of fog — Fog’s End Distillery makes unique craft whiskeys, of a sort. These are all made, as the company’s owner Craig Pakish explains, with the “no cook, sour mash” method. But there’s a twist: While corn and rye are both used in various products, all of Fog’s End’s whiskeys include sugar in the mash. In fact, all of these spirits are half sugar, half grain.

What does that make these products? To its credit, Fog’s End does not call any of them “whiskey,” but I’m at a loss as to how to describe them as well. Only one of the products is aged. Most of them are straight off the still.

Anyway, arguments over semantics and monikers aside, here’s what you’ll find if you crack into one of Fog’s End’s inimitable spirits.

Fog’s End Distillery California MoonShine – “Made right on the left coast,” this 50% corn/50% sugar whiskey is moonshine through and through. And how. Intense popcorn notes on the nose lead to a pure, overpowering white lightning. Notes of coal, honeycomb, and fresh linens can be found on the back end, but getting there is a hell of a ride. 100 proof. B- / $30

Fog’s End White Dog – Made from a mash of 50% rye and 50% sugar, its much, much softer than the MoonShine, almost innocuous with a very mild body. The sugar is more than evident, with a sort of maple syrup character in the way it all comes together. Notes of apples and cherries add nuance. Altogether it interesting stuff for a white whiskey (of sorts). Use as an alternative to vodka. 80 proof. B / $34

Fog’s End Monterey Rye – Quite a misleading name, this is actually the white dog (50% rye, 50% sugar), aged for an unstated time and then bottled at a higher 90 proof. Definitely a step up from the white dog in complexity, the wood influence adds a significant caramel character and the extra alcohol gives it some heft. Still very sweet, but with more of a sense of balance. Some notes of cloves and cinnamon on the back end, but like the white dog, it leaves quite the sugary finish. B+ / $43

Fog’s End Primo Agua Ardiente – Literally “cousin’s fire water.” 50% corn and 50% sugar-based white whiskey, spiked with chili peppers, unaged but with a light yellow tint to it. Very spicy, but not overpowering the way some pepper-spiked spirits can be. The heat sticks in the back of throat, which has the secondary effect of drowning out pretty much everything else in the spirit. Fun for parties. 80 proof. B- / $34

fogsenddistillery.com

Review: Dad’s Hat White Rye and Rye Whiskey

dads hat rye 251x300 Review: Dads Hat White Rye and Rye WhiskeyBased in Bristol, Pennsylvania, Dad’s Hat is one of the darling craft distillers of the modern mixology movement. Focused exclusively on young rye whiskeys, the basic Dad’s Hat mashbill involves 80% rye, 15% malted barley, and 5% malted rye. Grains are sourced locally, and aging is done in smaller barrels.

These two whiskeys make up the core offering, while a vermouth-finished rye is being added this summer. Various special editions, including a cask strength whiskey, are also available from time to time.

Thoughts follow.

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania White Rye – Immediately fiery, this white whiskey settles down to reveal big grain notes, some citrus, and a long, almond-fueled finish with a touch of smoke on it. Plenty of spice and a sweet back end elevate this above the usual white whiskey fare. Nothing I’d probably sit around sipping straight, but cocktailing opportunities abound. 100 proof. B+ / $30

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey – Plenty of brash grain influence remains in this whiskey, which is aged a minimum of 6 months in quarter casks. But man, so much character can be found once you push into the spirit. Caramel and vanilla, cherry cola, and touches of licorice and ginger on the finish. Yeah, this would be a better whiskey if it had further mellowed out, but Dad’s Hat is really on to something here. Try it in a Manhattan. 90 proof. A- / $50  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

dadshatrye.com

Review: Craft Distillers Low Gap White Rye and 2 Year Old Wheat Whiskey

low gap white rye whiskey 80x300 Review: Craft Distillers Low Gap White Rye and 2 Year Old Wheat WhiskeyWe reviewed Craft Distillers’ Low Gap White Wheat Whiskey two years ago. Who knew that the company would radically broaden its horizons to launch plans for four different Low Gap whiskeys, a Wheat (previously reviewed), a Rye (reviewed below), a Bourbon (coming soon), and a mystery blend (coming after that)? Will a mere four white whiskeys cut it?

On top of that, all of these whiskeys are going to be aged, as God intended, of course. Two years after the introduction of Low Gap White Wheat, the aged, two year old version is now available. We sampled both the new white rye and the aged wheat. Thoughts follow.

Low Gap White Rye Whiskey is made from malted rye, double distilled in Craft Distillers’ antique copper pot still. There is lots of malty grain on the nose, but it’s quite mild, not the hoary, fuel-infused character you get from most white whiskeys. On the tongue, it’s surprisingly mild. Yes, the expected notes from the granary come through, but the rounded body also offers light orange and mandarin notes, banana, and a touch of coconut. The finish is grassy, and slightly smoky. A quite credible white whiskey. 85.4 proof. B+ / $45

low gap 2 year old wheat whiskey 80x300 Review: Craft Distillers Low Gap White Rye and 2 Year Old Wheat WhiskeyLow Gap California Wheat Whiskey 2 Years Old takes Low Gap White Wheat, made from double-distilled, 100% malted Bavarian Hard Wheat, and drops it into three kinds of barrels: new American oak, used Bourbon barrels (from Van Winkle), and used 350-liter Limousin oak barrels (formerly used for Germain-Robin brandy). It’s young stuff, and the barrels are still doing their magic here. On the nose, it’s enigmatic… lightly woody, the grain character still dominating. The body’s a different animal. A rush of vanilla sweetness hits you first, quickly followed by huge Cognac notes. That Germain-Robin has done a real number here. The finish is all raisins, Sugar Babies, plums, and a chocolate finish. It’s got very little resemblance to any conventional whiskey on the market, which is a good and a bad thing. Anyone walking into Low Gap expecting a light version of Maker’s Mark is going to be in for a real shock. But who doesn’t like trying something new? 84 proof. B+ / $60 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

craftdistillers.com

Recipes: Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey Cocktails

With the announcement that Jim Beam’s Jacob’s Ghost is now available nationwide, we decided to reach out to Beam’s master mixologist Bobby Gleason to celebrate its release. He took Jacob’s Ghost for a spin to see how it fares in some old classics.

Jacobs Ghost Cosmo 218x300 Recipes: Jacobs Ghost White Whiskey CocktailsGhost Cosmo
2 parts Jacob’s Ghost
1 part orange liqueur
1 part white cranberry juice
½ part fresh lime juice

Build all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with cherries.

Jacob’s Julep
1 part Jacob’s Ghost
Jacobs Julep 264x300 Recipes: Jacobs Ghost White Whiskey Cocktails¼ part lemon juice
1 pinch of cane sugar
Molasses to taste
Mint leaves

In a Collins glass, dissolve the sugar in a splash of water. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add Jacob’s Ghost. Stir in all remaining contents until the glass becomes frosty, adding more ice if necessary. (Don’t hold the glass in your hand while stirring.) Garnish the glass with sprigs of mint.

Jacob’s Old Fashioned
1 part Jacob’s Ghost
Jacobs Old Fashioned 300x267 Recipes: Jacobs Ghost White Whiskey Cocktails¼ part honey syrup
6 dashes Angostura bitters
6 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec bitters
Lemon zest

In a mixing glass, combine Jacob’s Ghost, honey syrup, Angostura Bitters and Fee Brothers Aztec Bitters; shake and strain into an old fashioned glass with ice and finish with a lemon zest.

Review: White Pike Whiskey

white pike whiskey. 140x300 Review: White Pike WhiskeyWhite Pike is white whiskey, straight outta Finger Lakes Distilling in Burdett, New York, made from a unique recipe that includes corn, spelt, and malted wheat.

The nose is traditional of most white whiskeys: Big corn notes and a maltiness to back it up. There are some indistinct forest floor notes in there, too.

The body’s another animal. Here the grain takes on a sweetness that you wouldn’t expect from the nose, well-integrated with the malt notes and a touch of peppery spices. All that corn character in the aroma hangs with you, but the ultimate effect is something akin to kettle corn. The finish is surprisingly light and fresh. Ultimately there’s not a ton of complexity here, but as white whiskeys go, this is one that’s worth checking out as an occasional vodka or white rum substitute.

80 proof.

B / $42 / whitepike.com [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

Review: XXX Shine Salted Caramel Corn Whiskey

Shine Family Salted Caramel Whiskey 239x300 Review: XXX Shine Salted Caramel Corn WhiskeyHow do you take the edge off of white whiskey? You can put it in a barrel for 6 years or so, or you can drop in some flavoring and sell it tomorrow.

Shine (aka “XXX Shine”) makes a straight white dog, but it also makes two flavored versions, a tea flavored whiskey and this, a white dog flavored with salted caramel.

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Review: Deerhammer Whitewater Whiskey

deerhammer whitewater whiskey 123x300 Review: Deerhammer Whitewater WhiskeyHere’s a unique offering: 100% malted barley, double pot-distilled, unaged whiskey from Colorado. That’s a unique setup. Here’s how it shakes out.

Traditional nose for white dog. Lots of graininess, with aromas of the forest — trees and floor — and diesel-powered vehicles. Plenty more of the same on the body, but sweeter than you might be expecting. Think sugary cereal (Count Chocula?) with milk, vanilla, and freshly-minded coal, all mixed up in a slurry of gasoline. Chewy leather and tobacco notes on the finish.

It’s always tough describing white whiskey in a way that makes it sound appealing. Deerhammer, in the final analysis, offers a product that is worthwhile, though — given the lightness of that malted barley base — not overly demanding.

90 proof.

B / $33 / deerhammer.com

Review: Judd’s Wreckin’ Ball Corn Whiskey

judds wreckin ball white whiskey 119x300 Review: Judds Wreckin Ball Corn WhiskeyWhite whiskey is always a dicey affair. One named “Wreckin’ Ball” — complete with a picture of a wrecking ball on the label — sounds downright dangerous.

Made in the back room of Montezuma Winery, in New York’s Finger Lakes region, this spirit is column distilled from 100% corn mash and bottled at 80 proof. The initial nose of grain and corn on the cob is powerful and pungent. Much sweeter on the palate than you expect, the corn character here develops into something akin to buttered popcorn, crisp and fragrant — and fresh and young.

As white whiskey goes, Wreckin’ Ball is surprisingly far away from the brash monster its name and label would suggest. Smooth and simple (being a standard proof level instead of straight-off-the-still strength helps), this lightly sweet libation doesn’t scream with complexity, and it knows it doesn’t need to.

B / $28 / montezumawinery.com

Review: Jim Beam Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey

Is anyone not getting into the white whiskey game? JD, High West, Buffalo Trace… everyone’s got one.

Why not Jim Beam, then?

Jacob’s Ghost — named after the founding father of Jim Beam, Jacob Beam, who distilled his first whiskey in 1795 — is a white whiskey with a twist. Made from the same mashbill as Jim Beam’s white label, this isn’t white dog bottled right off the still. Instead, it’s aged in barrel for a full year, then filtered to get most of the color out of it.

A year in barrel will give a lot of color to a whiskey, and you’ll notice that Jacob’s Ghost is not entirely clear. It’s a very pale yellow — on par with a very light white wine — that really does come across as a bit ghostly.

That year really makes all the difference. The burly petrol notes of true white dog are mellowed out, leaving behind a smoother white whiskey than you might be accustomed to.

The nose offers few clues. Very sweet, it’s got a distinct marshmallow character to it. Touches of oak, but very mild on the nose.

The body follows suit: Big marshmallow notes. Sugar and vanilla all the way, with just a touch of corn — think Fritos — on the finish. Everything you’re expecting in a white whiskey is simply not present here. No roughness, no vegetal notes, no fire water. It’s sweet enough to make you feel like it’s doctored — though I don’t actually believe that.

What Jacob’s Ghost is lacking is complexity. This is a very young, and very sweet whiskey, through and through. I’d wager most tasters would have trouble guessing what this was at all. Is it vodka? White rum? Tequila? Try serving this to your whiskey friends and watch their heads spin.

Fun stuff. I’m into it.

On sale February 2013. 80 proof.

A- / $22 / jimbeam.com

jim beam jacobs ghost white whiskey 310x1000 Review: Jim Beam Jacobs Ghost White Whiskey

Review: Charbay R5 Clear and Aged Hop-Flavored Whiskey

Whiskey is (basically) made from beer, so why not make it from really good beer?

For its long-awaited R5 whiskey, California’s Charbay (best known for its high-end flavored vodkas) took Bear Republic’s beloved Racer 5 IPA and put it through a still. This is not an inexpensive task: 10 gallons of beer distill down to 1 gallon of whiskey. Double-distilled in copper pot stills, the resulting whiskey is being released in two versions: “Clear,” an unaged version, and “Aged,” which spends 22 months in French oak barrels.

We got our hands on both varieties; both are bottled at 99 proof. Thoughts follow.

Charbay R5 Clear Hop-Flavored Whiskey Lot 610C – Lots of tropical fruit on the nose and body. That funky white dog character is there, but it’s overpowered by fruit and sweetness. Creamy and seductive, it’s surprisingly easy-drinking and enjoyable for a white whiskey, with plenty of character to overpower any of the funk left behind from the white doggedness. Imagine an IPA while you’re drinking it and you’ll understand everything. A- / $52

Charbay R5 Aged Hop-Flavored Whiskey Lot 610A – Aged 22 months, making this a very young whiskey — though not as young as the Clear, of course. Surprisingly similar to the white version, this light brown spirit would be indistinguishable on the nose if not for a slight chocolate note that you can catch. The body is bolder and richer. That chocolate comes along here again, along with some of the tropical fruit character of the Clear version. That said, I was hoping for more depth of flavor. The wood tones down the fruitiness a lot, and the finish is more drying than fruity. It’s strange to find myself saying this, but I prefer the white version. B+ / $75  [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]

charbay.com