Much like a superhero team each grain in a blended whisky contributes its own unique character to create something else altogether. It can be very helpful to first get to know what each individual grain tastes like so that you know which ones are contributing what flavours to the spirit.
This is particularly important for rye whiskies and bourbon, as these are a mix of rye, corn and other grains (although bourbon does have to be at least 51% corn). Finding 100% rye whiskies is becoming slightly easier but 100% corn whiskies are rare. A few years ago I had the chance to try both a 100% rye and a 100% corn whisky at the same tasting and all the flavours I had been tasting in ryes and bourbons just clicked for me! It become easier to tell the difference between a bourbon with a high rye content and one with a low rye content. So if you ever get the chance to try single grain whiskies at a tasting I highly recommend it for the learning experience.
For this grain showdown we had: Whistlepig Straight 100% rye, Stalk & Barrel Corn whisky and Koval Millet whisky
Whistlepig Straight 100% Rye
10 yo, 50% ABV
Colour: Darkest of the three but similar to the Koval, Amber hue
Nose: Hits your nostrils with characteristic rye spiciness, pepper and allspice, a touch of honey and later on smelled of leather
Taste: Basically tastes like it smells. Also flavours of sweet bell pepper with a dash of orange zest and ginger
If this whisky were on a superhero team: Rye is the wildcard character. Goes off, does it’s own thing, can be abrasive, but can also show a soft side, like our beloved Canadian hero Wolverine. All-New Wolverine comic is released this week too!
Drink it again? Love rye whisky but preferred the Canadian Club Chairmen’s Select 100% rye. Stalk & Barrel also makes an amazing 100% rye whisky. So although I wouldn’t buy this one, I would be willing to drink it again.
Stalk & Barrel Corn Whisky, Cask Strength
Barrelled Nov 2011, Bottles Nov 2013, 62.8% ABV
Colour: Lightest of the three, but also the youngest, golden yellow
Nose: Didn’t get much from this whisky, mild compared to the others, some honey
Taste: Has a strong start and quick finish. The kick in the mouth and subsequent lip tingling is from the high ABV. Get a taste of spearmint and a minor touch of caramel towards the end. Despite the strength of the whisky it’s not unpleasant. It’s certainly not a sippin’ corn though.
If this whisky were on a superhero team: Definitely the young rookie that has some maturing to do, but with a sweet heart of gold.
Drink it again? With some maturing maybe, but would make a great mixer and is great as a teaching tool for learning the taste corn gives to whisky.
Koval Single Barrel Millet
Nose: Has very familiar candy smell that we couldn’t quite place, sort of like a cherry cough drop or those cream filled, brightly coloured licorice sticks.
Taste: Slow build to a spark of a finish, extremely smooth mouth feel that coats everything. My mind was blown on this whisky because it’s so different as I’ve never tasted millet before and it’s amazing. Absolutely loved it. Again couldn’t quite place the taste, but thought of dates, candied cherries and nuts like almond or pecan. This whisky would be so good paired with a dark chocolate.
If this whisky were on a superhero team: The smooth talking millionaire playboy that sweeps everyone off their feet.
Drink it again? Yes and please make it a whole bottle. Had no idea what to expect from this whisky because millet isn’t a commonly used whisky grain, so I was pleasantly surprised!