After hearing that we accused them of over-pricing, the good folks at Charbay endeavored to teach us otherwise by sending us gobs of literature and a lovely sample. How’d they do? Read on, dear apostles, read on.
Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey, Batch #2
55% ABV, $325
What the distillery says:
[these are some bullet points from the press release – Matt] Single malt distilled from pilsner beer – a first in the history of whiskey distillation. 100% Two-Row European Barley grown and malted in British Columbia. No peat during malting – to emphasize the natural grain flavors. Hops added to the mash: Nugget, Cascade & Eroica. Double-distilled in 1000-gallon Alambic Charentais Pot Still. Classical 7-Fraction distillation method for purity & smoothness. Aged 6 years in custom-made new White Oak barrels (charred to #3 Gator Skin); aged for 3 more years in stainless. Bottled at 110 proof and not filtered. Second release from Collector’s Series – 20,000 gallons of Pilsner distilled for 3.5 weeks straight (24/7) in 1999 by Miles & Marko Karakasevic (22 barrels total). Aged at variable temperatures; 5 barrels chosen & blended to share how the Whiskey is aging.
What Richard says:
Nose: This really is a truely lovely nose. It’s very floral and fruity with hints of grape, citrus, and something tropical that I can’t put my finger on. The nose strongly resembles a medium aged cognac. Pierre Ferrand Amber or Grand Mariner maybe?
Palate: Quite a precocious little tart aren’t you? The palate opens slow. First a tangy flavor that’s almost sweet but not quite. It follows with a spiced heat and finishes with the hoppy pilsner notes. It’s very viscous and luscious in mouthfeel. For 55% ABV it’s more drinkable than you would expect. Unfortunately, with water the palate deflates.
Finish: The finish remains hoppy and a little rough around the edges but that’s mostly from the bottling strength. Cutting it with a little water smooths out the finish.
Comments: This whiskey confuses me a little. It has more in common with a brandy than a whiskey, both in nose and palate. Definitely a whiskey for cognac drinkers. It is remarkably smooth at higher proof. It’s a very intriguing tipple but at the price that they are asking I can’t tell you to go out and buy it. Matt and I don’t disagree too much on whiskey but I can’t give it nearly as high a rating as he did. I can’t say must buy because of the price tag. I’m inclined against must try too because it’s doesn’t taste like a whiskey. But maybe that’s why you should try it.
Rating: Stands Out
What Matt says:
Nose: Nutmeg, rice pudding and caramel. There is a distinct smell that reminds me of the cold dregs from a Turkish coffee. Yes, I said it. It smells cold. I know that “dregs from a Turkish coffee” is pretty specific and of little use if you have not had the experience, but that is what I get. Sorry.
Palate: Incredibly complex. Black pepper, cold (there it is again!) wet black tea, high-end marijuana, spearmint, evergreen, and Moroccan mint tea. There is even some fruit in there (muscadines?).
Finish: There is a little bit of burn on the finish (it’s 110 proof!), but with a few drops of water that goes away completely. This whiskey dances on the palate for a while, leaving a long finish of Moroccan mint tea.
Comments: I can only assume that the complexity of this whiskey comes from the addition of the hops. This is truly an amazing dram. Smooth and delicious. The only critique I can offer is this: this whiskey is so unique and interesting that it would not satisfy my craving for single malt whiskey. However, if I had a craving for this (and I will) there is nothing else that could satisfy my lust. The price tag is hefty, but there is nothing like it anywhere. There are only a few bottles of this left, so I hope there is a Batch #3 in the works (and that they send us a sample of it).
Rating: Must Try/Must Buy
Overall Rating: Must Try