A well made wheat whiskey, but still a wheat whiskey.
Notes: Finger Lakes distilling released a new whiskey, McKenzie Wheat Whiskey, on Kentucky Derby Day (May 4th). Made from 60% wheat, 20% corn and 20% malted barley, this whiskey was aged in used quarter cask bourbon and rye barrels (10 gallon charred American Oak) for over 2 years before bottling.
The whiskey is an interesting type of whiskey as there are only a few distillers who have made a wheat whiskey, many others opting for a bourbon (which is a mix of grains, of which at least 51% must be corn), or rye whiskey ( which must be at least 51% rye grain).Occasionally one would see a corn whiskey ( either aged or unaged) but almost never a wheat whiskey, it was just not something the big distillers wanted to spend he time and trouble to develop – they concentrated mainly on bourbon to the point where even rye was at the brink of extinction before it made a roaring comeback in recent years.
Extremely limited in quantity, the only 2 places you can buy it are at the Finger Lakes Distillery or online at Caskers.com. Expect to pay about $45 for a 750 ML bottle
Appearance: Clear golden wheat straw color through the use of small cask aging.on swirling it leaves a light oily coating on the glass with tears slowly forming
First Impression: Nice cereal grainy notes with a drier bouquet than a whiskey containing corn. Notes of vanilla, mint, almond, oak and glycerin
Taste: Fairly dry, with pleasant oiliness to it, grain oak, mint, light tobacco, apricots and maybe a touch of allspice. Much lighter than a whiskey with more corn or rye, and drier on the palate. Finish is medium with dry grain finish.
Drinks: Makes a decent but lighter version of a Rob Roy, Blood and Sand or Manhattan ( along wit most other whiskey drinks) but you should bear in mind this whiskey can be overwhelmed by other ingredients and fade if you don’t take its somewhat lighter nature into account.
Bottle: The hand bell shaped clear glass with a bulbous neck. Sloped shoulder with a wrap around label with Rye Whiskey in antique style script at midpoint of neck. Paper antique style label with batch information on side. Composite cork with copper colored metal cap keeps the bottle well sealed and eliminates the possibility of real cork floaters getting into your whiskey.
Other: Being a primarily wheat whiskey it is a bit drier than a bourbon and less spicy than a rye – that doesn’t mean it tastes like a vodka, just a lighter form of whiskey which will interest both traditional bourbon and rye drinkers and maybe get the fear of flavor vodka crowd to try it.
Final Thoughts: Frankly not overly sure on this one.While it is certainly pleasant enough and interesting most whiskey drinkers will find it a bit too dry and bland. On the other hand it is a great gateway whiskey for those transitioning from white drinks such as vodka without overly challenging or scaring them off. Also the price of $45 a bottle is a bit steep for an admittedly artisanal but less complex whiskey so the value score suffers a bit. For a wheat whiskey it is very well done , but I can’t say I am a fan of the category as such.
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