Welcome to the most exclusive blind whiskey tasting experience.
Distillery: Corsair Distillery - Nashville, Tennessee
Name: Triple Smoke American Single Malt Whiskey
Proof: 80 proof (40% ABV)
Age Statement: 1 year
Mashbill: 100% malted barley (mix of 3 different smokes: cherrywood, beechwood, and peat)
Color/Appearance: Pale copper
Aroma Notes: Smoke and salt (like a campfire by the ocean), Cherry Jolly Rancher™, black licorice
Tasting Notes: Delightful umami, a mossy brininess with a hint of roasted meats, grilled peaches, dried apricots
Finish: Cherry notes linger briefly, a slightly dry finish
Known for their innovative spirits, Corsair Distillery has been on our radar for awhile. Want pot-distilled gin? You got it. Want a Dark Rye made from a combination of malted and chocolate rye? No problem. Craft beer made by the homebrewing founders? Easy!
But it was really their Triple Smoke American Single Malt Whiskey that truly captured our attention. As we’ve mentioned previously, American Single Malt Whiskey is on the rise, and just for reasons such as what’s in your glass today! This category provides such a canvas for the creation of new and exciting spirits, as evidenced by the use of 3 different kinds of smoked barley to craft this one-of-a-kind bottle. Corsair is as authentic as it gets, never using artificial coloring or flavoring, just straight innovation and commitment to making the whiskey they want to drink.
At the time, there were only three dozen craft distilleries in the U.S. Today, helmed by Christian and Thomas Mooney, who joined the team as Founder & CEO in 2011 to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a whiskey entrepreneur, Westward is a proud leader among more than 2,200 producers.
We taste all our samples blind when we first try them (of course!), and this immediately popped out of the glass to us. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did, a truly singular experience!
Childhood friends, Darek Bell and Andrew Webber, began homebrewing beer and wine in Darek and Amy Lee Bell’s garage. They hit a snag while working on a prototype bio-diesel plant, causing Andrew to remark that making whiskey would be much more satisfying. The idea stuck, and the two soon found themselves studying distilleries and spirits.
Soon after, in 2008, Corsair Distillery was founded in Bowling Green, KY. By 2010, Corsair set its marks where it all started, becoming the first craft distillery in Nashville since Prohibition. Corsair’s spirits have been praised in publications like Food and Wine, Saveur, Imbibe, Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate, the Atlantic, Time Out New York, and Maxim.com. Corsair’s innovative and adventurous spirits have won over 800 medals at national and international spirits competitions.
Distillery: Broken Barrel Whiskey Co. - Los Angeles, CA
Name: Broken Barrel - Barrel Pick Rye Whiskey
Proof: 106.4 proof (53.2% ABV)
Age Statement: 3 years old
Mashbill: 95% rye, 5% malted barley
Oakbill™: 50% 15-Gallon Char #4, 40% French, Ex-Bourbon, 10% Sherry Cask Oak
Color/Appearance: Light Amber
Aroma Notes: Herbaceous, red vines, nutty, a hint of marshmallow, oak
Tasting Notes: Oregano, rosemary, dill, nice tannins and wood presence (cedar), rum raisin, black cherry
Finish: Spicy yet balanced, the flavor lingers on the front of your palate
The barrel is sometimes called the soul of whiskey, with some estimates putting it as contributing 70-80% of the flavor in every bottle. Regardless of the precise number, the wood used to age the distillate is hugely important, and that’s what the Broken Barrel team really gets.
Every barrel they bottle has a distinctive Oak Bill™ that they use to dial in the flavor of the whiskey to be just right. Blending is an art, one that really requires the taster to use all their palate and creativity to see just what the liquid needs. Their blending team adds broken up barrel staves to each cask of whiskey to enhance the flavor - think of it like using an extra barrel to “finish” the spirit, except instead of bringing the whiskey to a new cask, they bring the pieces of the barrel to the whiskey!
Only a couple of places have tried something this innovative, most famously Maker’s Mark with their Single Barrel program and Maker’s 46, but we are so excited to see the Broken Barrel team’s commitment to forging new paths to find bigger, bolder flavors. Enjoy!
Broken Barrel began with a man, an axe, a barrel and a dream. From its inception, the brand was intended to be different from all other whiskeys. Broken Barrel’s founder Seth Benhaim, had already found success with his first liquor brand of single bottle infused vodkas, Infuse Spirits (www.infusespirits.com). At age 29, Seth sourced his first barrels of bourbon from Owensboro, Kentucky to produce what would later become Broken Barrel Whiskey Co. The experiment involved sourcing used bourbon barrels, French oak barrels, and sherry casks from Spain – all to be used in the first ever Oak Bill™.
It was unclear how people would react to the concept of using different broken barrels staves to finish a bourbon whiskey. Back in 2017 and the looming eclipse and domination of every kind of barrel finished American whiskey had not quite come into full maturity.
Benhaim believed that there was a missed opportunity in traditional barrel finishing – namely the reliance on one type of barrel used to finish one type of whiskey. He wanted Broken Barrel to be an expansion of the barrel finishing concept, involving not only broken barrel staves (vs. intact barrels), but also the combination of multiple barrel types all finishing aged bourbon in tandem. Benhaim also believed blended whiskeys would be bracing options more suitable for stave finishing. Broken Barrel’s concept proved successful, with positive reception across a 17-state launch in late 2017.
Distillery: RY3 Whiskey - Virginia Beach, VA
Name: Cask Strength Private Reserve Blended Rye Whiskey, finished in Toasted Barrels
Proof: 120.6 proof (60.3% ABV)
Age Statement: 3.5 years
Blend Makeup: 14 year light whiskey, 4 year rye whiskey (100% rye), 3.5 year rye whiskey (95% rye/5% malted barley)
Color/Appearance: Rose gold
Aroma Notes: Cinnamon, blackberry jam, mint leaf, licorice, orange peel, molasses
Tasting Notes: Nutmeg on rye toast, lovely spice, dark chocolate with toasted marshmallows, chocolate-covered raisins
Finish: Medium finish, juicy with lots of baking spices
Toasted barrel finishes are all the rage right now, and we think that the team over at RY3 knocked it out of the park with this one! They really push the art of blending forward, searching far and wide for 3 unique whiskeys that together equal much more than the sum of their parts. The Toasted Barrel (think of the staves as baked vs. charred with a flamethrower) rounds out the high proof of this blend to add excellent depth to the pour.
Ultimately this is such a special pour, and we are so glad that people are exploring other categories of whiskey (such as this blended rye) to create spectacular drams for us to enjoy!
RY3 Whiskey is the latest project from Phenomenal Spirits, a blending house located in Virginia Beach, VA. They initially gained regard for their Ron Izalco 10-Year rum, and then turned their attention to the whiskey world, utilizing 3 different mashbills of whiskeys to create their RY3 blended rye whiskey. Master Blender Matt Witzig, formerly of Jos. A. Magnus & Co., crafts this blend using 3 phenomenal whiskeys, 3 carefully handpicked mashbills, and 3 distinctive age statements, which are meticulously blended with artisanal distinction and bottled at cask strength to create this magical liquid. In their words, “We have respected the traditions of rye whiskey and skillfully challenged the art of blending.”
Distillery: KROBAR Distillery - San Luis Obispo, CA
Name: KROBAR Cask Strength Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 117 proof (58.5% ABV)
Age Statement: 3.5 years
Mashbill: 75% corn, 25% rye
Color/Appearance: Red amber
Aroma Notes: Red fruits, spice, nutmeg, clove, rich
Tasting Notes: Cherry danish, rosemary-infused maple syrup, good oak presence
Finish: Long, rich, full
KROBAR Distillery is exactly what is exciting and excellent about the current whiskey renaissance. A true craft distillery whose founder, Stephen Kroener, is also its Master Distiller, they make everything they sell completely in house, sourcing from local grains and drawing upon Stephen’s superb creativity. Previously coming from the wine industry, Kroener pays attention to all the little things that make a spectacular whiskey, from working with Vendome Copper & Brass Works to build a custom still to his specifications, to only buying wood for his barrels that meet his high standards.
And that attention to detail comes through in the whiskey. We love everything they make, but their Cask Strength Bourbon takes the cake. It’s just a phenomenal pour, full of rich flavors and hitting all the notes you love to see in a classic, American whiskey. 10 years of KROBAR have been pretty good, and we are so excited to see what the future holds for this distillery!
KROBAR founder Stephen Kroener has deep roots in the alcohol business. His grandparents were moonshiners and bootleggers in Alabama, and his father founded Silver Horse winery in Paso Robles.
Stephen grew up in Southern California and moved to Colorado for college where he played rugby and developed a better appreciation of everything ethanol related. After a seven year stint in college (he should be a doctor...but is not), he relocated to Paso Robles, California and joined his family’s winery operation. He learned the wine business from grape to glass, starting in the vineyard and cellar to eventually running every aspect of the winery's operations.
Wanting to forge his own path, Stephen founded KROBAR Craft Distillery in 2012 after years of research and perfecting his craft, once again learning all the aspects of the business from grain/grape to glass. Since then Stephen has been producing various styles of award winning gin, vodka, rum, bourbon, rye, and malt whiskeys.
Located in San Luis Obispo, California, KROBAR Craft Distillery produces gin and vodka, bourbon, rye whiskey, malt whiskey and rum from their three production stalls.
The still is by far the most important tool in distilling, and after years of researching stills and still manufacturers, Stephen worked with Vendome Copper & Brass Works in Louisville, KY to develop custom build stills to suit the KROBAR style. Vendome has a long history in the alcohol business and since its founding around 1910, the Sherman family of Vendome has built many of the production stills used by the distilling industry over the course of 5 generations.
Stephen set out to create traditional and not-so-traditional spirits for all to enjoy. By using old school and new school methods and creating spirits using unique ingredients, KROBAR's libation lineup is perfect for enjoying on the rocks, neat, or added to your favorite mixer.