While I have trouble believing that “America’s Finest” anything is packaged in the same type of can that they sell turpentine in, I am pleased to see that Stillhouse — best known for its increasingly chaotic line of flavored moonshines (mint chip whiskey, anyone?) — is taking things upmarket. Now Stillhouse is out with a wholly new line, ditching the red can for a black one, which is appropriate because it’s called Black Bourbon.
What’s Black Bourbon? Black Bourbon is a real bourbon (well, “blended bourbon”), made with corn, rye, and barley and then aged in new charred oak, which is then “rested & mellowed” in roasted coffee beans. Yes, there are a lot of questions here about how and where the bourbon is made, how old it is, and what “rested & mellowed” means, but when you’re drinking out of a paint thinner can, one has little need for the answers to such questions. One is mainly concerned with how the stuff actually tastes.
The answer: OK. I’ve had worse cheap whiskey, and I’ve had better. The nose here is fairly basic, quite hot with rough popcorn notes and plenty of raw alcohol/petrol character. On the palate, nothing particularly special leaps forward, either: Heavy popcorn indicates youth, as does the harsh burn on the back of the throat. (This is not a whiskey that anyone is going to describe as “smooth.”) There is a coffee element here, but it’s fleeting at first, and frankly it’s overwhelmed by notes of roasted peanuts, blackstrap molasses, and clove cigarettes. You’ll find a lot of the same elements in bottom-shelf bourbons on the market, but Stillhouse does have a reprise hint of coffee that lingers on the back end, helping to distinguish the whiskey from the fray, at least a little.
C / $30 / stillhouse.com