Great Lakes Distillery Kinnickinnic American Whiskey
What the Distillery Says:
Kinnickinnic: [KIN-I-KUH-NIK] An Ojibwe word meaning “what is mixed”.
Our Kinnickinnic Whiskey is a blend of Straight Bourbon we have sourced from one of America’s finest distilleries and a Malt whiskey and a Rye Whiskey we produce here at Great Lakes Distillery. We bottle it at 86 proof and we don’t filter it so we can ensure ALL the very best flavor is making it into the bottle.
American Blended Whiskeys are typically a mixture of a little Whiskey and Neutral Grain Spirit (essentially vodka!). Rest assured, there is no Neutral Grain Spirit in Kinnickinnic. It’s 100% Whiskey, and possibly the only American Blended Whiskey made this way on the market.
About the name- On the south side of Milwaukee we see Kinnickinnic everywhere- there is a main street through the Bay View neighborhood and a river named for it and several businesses include it in their name. To keep it quick and simple for locals and outsiders alike, many abbreviate it “KK” in writing and conversation. Kinnickinnic is an Ojibwe word meaning a blend or mix of tobacco and other plants. (There’s a good description on the Wisconsin Historical Society site).
What does this have to do with whiskey? Well, we think there are some pretty good analogies- Bourbon is often described as having a fresh tobacco like flavor, and like those Native Americans we found blending our “tobacco” with another plant (in our case malted barley and rye) produced a truly unique and delicious spirit. In our own experiments we have also determined this whiskey which is spectacular neat or with a few ice cubes is great mixed too!
What Gary Says:
Nose: The malted barley is most prominent, vegetative and grassy with a subtle sweetness.
Palate: Light, young malt; bran cereal, a hint of corn sweetness.
Finish: Short to moderate; a bit boring.
Comments: For being a mixture of malt whisky, bourbon and rye – the malted barley component is the only one I’m really picking up on. Someone could have poured me this and told me it was a single malt whisky, and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. Not sure what the mixture is, but I wish it had more kick from the rye, and sweetness from the bourbon. I understand these smaller, craft distilleries can’t compete on price point, and I do appreciate their looking to blend other components in – but for the money I would have been disappointed.
What Richard Says:
Nose: The nose is very corn forward. I would almost call this a Dickel if I didn’t know better.
Palate: Snickerdoodle sweetness with much less corn than the nose. Slightly astringent and a bit hot and harsh after the sweetness fades. Something that reminds me a bit of Ricola cough drops.
Finish: Hot chili pepper and fresh rubbed mint.
Comments: I’m Great Lakes praise for using actual whiskeys instead of grain neutral spirit blended with whiskey as some other bottlers have done. I also give the praise for being up front out the sourcing of their more aged component. Now that all the praise is done I have to say I find this young, harsh, and not really worth the $40+ price tag. Go grab a Buffalo Trace, Rittenhouse, Four Roses, or Evan Williams Bottled-In-Bond for half the price and be much happier.
Rating: Probably Pass