Wednesday 16 October 2013

Tasted #44 & #45: Koval Single Barrel Whiskey - Four Grain & Rye

World whiskies were a big part of my starting this blog - craft whiskies too. Discovering the weird, wonderful, unusual and unknown, all in the name of blogging science. Giddy up!

I'd like to say I stumbled across Koval Distillery, but it actually happened the other way around. Sitting at the airport one day I received an e-mail out-of-the-blue offering me a few samples, which I graciously accepted and gave my address. One month, two months...nothing. I sent a follow-up, nothing. Then finally a response - turns out the guys at the distillery thought I was a US-based blogger, and weren't too keen to send anything to Australia.

Luckily I had a US forwarder and had planned to have a few things sent over anyway, so shortly after I was in posession of two sample bottles of Koval whiskey - the Four Grain and Rye.

Koval are unique in a number of ways - first craft distillery in Chicago since prohibition, certified organic, certified Kosher, and with a seriously impressive portfolio for a distillery who have only been in operation since 2008 (Caraway or Chrysanthemum Honey liqueur, anyone?)

On the whiskey front, they offer everything from white whisky to Rye, Oat, Millet, Wheat and Spelt, as well as a Bourbon (made from a mashbill of organic corn and Millet). I was sent the Rye and Four Grain (Rye/Wheat/Oat/Barley) for tasting. So let's get on with it then..

Koval Distillery Single Barrel Four Grain Whisky (Barrel #196, 47% ABV, Chicago USA)
Koval Distillery Single Barrel Rye Whisky (Barrel #223, 40% ABV, Chicago USA)


Four Grain: Youthful, spicy, with strong notes of banana fritters.
Rye: Youthful, buttery, with slight....rubber notes? Not in a bad way, but they're there, not dissimilar to those in Balcones Baby Blue (which I loved).

Four Grain: Initial big hit soon softens, almost as if you get the full 47% ABV at first, but then it actually feels like it could use a few more % ABV. Apple crumble notes, with some cinnamon and a creaminess not often found in a lot of whiskies. Very enjoyable!
Rye: Light, very light - great for our upcoming summer. Toasted coconut and oatmeal, banana, spice, but sadly without the creaminess of the Four Grain.

Four Grain: Overall I'd say a medium finish, but sadly the fun bits (creamy dessert notes) are a bit on the shorter side.
Rye: Short, but pleasant. No real dominant notes, save for the toasted coconut which stays around for the short finish.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 
Four Grain: 91/100. Certainly an interesting whisky, and one I'll happily sip again.
Rye: 90/100. Different enough to other ryes out there, while still being very much enjoyable. I don't normally consider Rye a sipping whisky (though a good rye certainly can be), especially not a "summer" whisky, though with its 40% ABV and lighter notes, I think this one could wear both hats with ease.

As far as unique, craft distilleries go, Koval are definitely up there. I'd love to try some of their other whiskies (especially the Oat), and I'm also keen to try the Rye in cocktails (perhaps a Problem Solver - or any other suggestions anyone has?)

Many thanks to Koval Distillery for the samples provided. H&R Craft Beverages are the distributors of Koval in Australia.


 - Martin.

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