Posts from the ‘Corsair’ Category

Phil’s Favorite American Craft Whiskeys

There is no section of my local liquor store expanding quite so rapidly as American craft whiskey.  New distilleries seem to be emerging every day, as do new whiskeys.  I have to admit that I have not been impressed with all of it, but I have really enjoyed some of the craft whiskeys released in the United States over the last few years.

For the purposes of this series, some of these whiskeys could be included in different categories (i.e. Dad’s Hat is also a rye whiskey in addition to being a craft whiskey), but I stated at the beginning that each whiskey could only receive one nomination, so that is why each of these whiskeys appears here as opposed to on another list.  So, here are the nominees for American Craft Whiskey:

Name: Balcones “1” Texas Single Malt

Distillery: Balcones

Batch: SM 12-9

Age: No Age Statement

Proof: 106 (53% abv)

Price: $70-80/750ml

Notes: This was one of the first batches of Texas Single Malt released, and it did not disappoint.  This whiskey elicited rich banana bread notes, a nutty sweetness, and a rich berry creaminess.  This whiskey really worked to forge a new style all its own, and it worked beautifully.  The only caveat to this nomination is that I have tried a few successive batches of this whiskey that I have not liked nearly as much as I liked this first batch.  That said, this particular batch was brilliant whiskey.  “1” Texas Single Malt is available on a limited basis the further one gets from Texas.

Name: Corsair Triple Smoke

Distillery: Corsair Artisan Distillery

Batch: 84

Age: No Age Statement

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $45-50/750ml

Notes: This whiskey is a blend of three different malted barley samples, one smoked over cherry wood, one smoked over peat, and one smoked over beechwood.  The resulting whiskey is a unique take on smoked malt whiskey, yielding flavors of fiery peat, sweet barley, and freshly cut oak.  This is definitely a young whiskey that is a little rough around the edges, but the flavors are unique and they are bursting out of the bottle.  This is a hard whiskey to find, but if you do, it’s worth a try.  They are not too many like this one floating around.

Name: Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye

Distillery: Mountain Laurel Spirits

Batch: N/A

Age: 6 months

Proof: 90 (45% abv)

Price: $35-40/750ml

Notes: This rye is made in the authentic Pennsylvania style, meaning that corn is not included in the mashbill as found in Kentucky ryes.  Dad’s Hat is then aged in new oak quarter casks for a minimum of 6 months.  You would probably think that after only 6 months, this whiskey would be hot and brash, but it is nothing of the sort.  Even at its young age, this is a quality whiskey, with cocoa dust, rich black cherries, fresh oak shavings, and white chocolate.  This is one of those whiskeys that is really good and gets you really excited about tasting such a well-made spirit at an older age (Dad’s Hat will be rolling out a 3 year-old rye this spring).  This whiskey was awarded “Craft Whiskey of the Year” by Whisky Advocate magazine for good reason.  It is widely available in the mid-Atlantic, but gets harder to find the further one is from Pennsylvania.

Name: High West Campfire

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products/Unnamed Scottish Distilleries – Blended and Bottled at High West

Batch: N/A

Age: 5 Years

Proof: 92 (46% abv)

Price: $40-45/750ml

Notes: I had trouble decided whether or not High West belonged in the American Craft Whiskey category or not, but as they were undoubtedly one of the pioneers of the American craft movement, I have included their whiskeys here.  This particular whiskey is a blend of a rye whiskey, a bourbon, and a peated blended malt Scotch from an undisclosed source.  The result is something both unique and special.  Sweet flavors such as caramel, honey, and vanilla are present, as are herbal flavors like pine and juniper.  All these flavors are accented wonderfully by a twinge of rolling smoke.  This whiskey is widely available; you can find it in almost any liquor store where High West products are sold.

Name: High West Double Rye!

Distillery: Midwest Grain Products/Barton 1792 – Blended and Bottled at High West

Batch: N/A

Age: 2 Years

Proof: 92 (46% abv)

Price: $40-45/750ml

Notes: Double Rye! is made at the High West Distillery in Utah by marrying two different whiskeys – a 95% rye mashbill, 2 year-old whiskey from MGP in Indiana, and a 16 year-old, 53% rye mashbill from the Barton Distillery in Kentucky.  The resulting whiskey is a tour-de-force of rye flavors.  All the spice cabinet range of a great rye is present here, but it is all buttressed by rich honey and vanilla notes to round out a great profile.  The great part about this rye is that it is available almost everywhere in the United States, and it won’t break the bank.

Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey Review

In the last five years, the American craft whiskey scene has exploded, with a new distillery popping up almost every week.  I have had the chance to try a number of very good craft whiskeys, as well as some whiskeys that have been very disappointing.  Generally speaking, the problem with artisan distilleries (i.e. new, fairly small distilleries) is that they are financially obliged to sell their products as soon as they can to make a profit, which means they are often stuck selling whiskeys that are too young and overpriced.  Such are the perils of opening a distillery; it costs a lot of money to start one, and it takes time to make really good whiskey.  However, that does not mean that all craft whiskey is sub-par and overpriced.  Over the next few reviews, I will be reviewing whiskeys from Corsair Distillery in Tennessee and Balcones Distillery in Texas, both distilleries that are doing some very exciting things in the whiskey world.Corsair Triple Smoke

Today’s review is of Corsair Triple Smoke, a small batch, American malt whiskey.  The name “Triple Smoke” comes from the fact that this whiskey is made from 3 different types of barley – peat-smoked barley, beechwood-smoked barley, and cherrywood-smoked barley.  I suspect that the barley is sourced and not malted on site, but I am not sure on that one.  The whiskey aged in new, charred oak barrels, but there is no age statement on the bottle, so I don’t know how old this whiskey is.  My guess is that it is around 18-36 months old, but I would be much obliged if anyone had more info on that as well.  The whiskey is then bottled at 80 proof (40% abv) and released in small batches (this review is of batch #84).

I think if I smelled this blind, I would think I was drinking a very young Islay whisky.  The nose is warming and peaty, but it also has notes of barley, olive oil, and the earthen woodiness of a deciduous forest.  The palate is medium-bodied and surprisingly complex.  The peat forms the backbone, but there are also notes of maple bark, oak, sweet bread, and a whiff of vanilla.  The finish is medium-long, and balances peaty notes and woody notes very well.  The whiskey certainly tastes young, but I don’t believe that is always a bad thing.

Overall, this is a young, brash, yet very good peated American whiskey.  I know that not everyone will like this whiskey, but I certainly do.  It is smoky, woody, brash, but still refined enough to make a wonderful pour.  I would love to see what this whiskey would look like if it were aged to 6 or 8 years old.  This is the first whiskey I have reviewed from Corsair, and I hope to review some more.  I really enjoy the Triple Smoke expression, and I cannot wait to see what else Corsair is coming up with.  My grade: B+.  Price: $45-50/750ml.  This is a bit pricey for a whiskey that probably is not three years old, but I believe that the whiskey in the bottle is a very good find, indeed.  Give the craft whiskey boom a try, and let it ride!