Tag Archives: Prichard´s

…let´s try some corn and malt – American whiskey tasting no 5.

Lincoln County LightningPrichard´s Lincoln County Lightning, 90 proof (45%).

Already having tried the rye from Prichard´s distillery , it´s now time to sample their corn whiskey. Here we have something completely different, with a name alluding to the illegal white lightning or moonshine traditionally produced in makeshift distilleries of varying quality, with a mash bill of mainly corn. This type of product from commercial distilleries are fast becoming popular, and you will find a white whiskey or white dog on offer from many of the new craft distillers as well as from the larger companies.

Distilled from a mash made from white corn instead of the usual yellow, meaning a higher sugar content. As is the case with this type of spirit, it´s of course taken directly from the still with no barrel aging. Typical for white whiskey the colour is exactly that, watery-clear. The nose shows solid corn sweetness followed by vanilla. Neat in a tasting glass you get a distinctive corn sweetness and a typical white dog character, with a fairly short, fiery finish. In a tumbler with ice the sweetness is enhanced while keeping the corn notes.

A white dog pretty true to it´s character, but as such almost always less interesting than the fully matured product. That´s not to say that this type of whiskey doesn´t have its merits, and you probably shouldn´t compare apples and oranges.

Balcones True BlueBalcones True Blue, 100 proof (50%).

Balcones is a very interesting craft distillery started a few years ago in Waco, Texas. The distillery was built from scratch in a wave of enthusiasm, all the way down to the stills themselves, the process documented in photographs on their website. All of the whiskey sold under the Balcones name is distilled and matured at the company, following the bottled in bond act. Apart from this whiskey the company produces a single malt and several other varieties of corn whiskey, as well as something called Rumble made from wildflower honey and figs.

Balcones True Blue is available both as cask strength (with over 60% alcohol content), and as this 50 % bottling. It´s made from blue corn, originally associated with the Hopi Native Americans and with it´s higher protein content and lower glycemic index considered nutritionally superior to regular white or yellow corn. Blue corn meal is often used making tortillas, giving them a different taste than other corn meal varieties. So, already in its choice of ingredients this whiskey is innovative and interesting.

The colour is light amber. The nose shows caramel and brown sugar combined with corn sweetness and vanilla. Neat in a tasting glass we get caramel laced with cinnamon and dark chocolate, with a long spicey finish. In a tumbler with ice things gets less complex but still with a distinct blue corn kick leading us on. The bottle is nice and chubby, with a wax seal and cork stopper. Nothing too fancy but with an easily recognizable graphic design of the labels of the company´s different products.

Regrettably not that easy to get hold of in Sweden, this whiskey is definitely something I´m going to want to try again. A distillery that I´ll keep on following, hopefully getting a chance to try their other products too.

Prichard´s Single MaltPrichard´s Single Malt Whiskey

Made entirely from malted American barley, distilled in copper pot stills and aged in barrels of charred new American oak for about three years.
Coming in at a beautiful copper colour this whiskey looks its part. The nose has fruity banana aromas as well as oak and vanilla. Neat in a tasting glass we get oak, caramel and a slight vanilla tone. With ice in a tumbler the vanilla and caramel notes gets bigger and takes over. Fairly short finish.

This is one of the first American single malt whiskeys that I´ve ever tried, and I must confess that this is not something I would think of as a single malt. Of course I´m being influenced by expectations awakened by the similarity in name to its Scottish counterpart, which isn´t fair. I have a few other American single malts waiting, and will return with a separate tasting.

…it´s time for some rye – American Whiskey tasting no 3.

Templeton Rye
Templeton Rye, 80 proof (40%)
As always with American whiskies there´s a background story, which you can choose to believe or not. At the start of Prohibition in 1920, several residents of the small town of Templeton, Iowa started producing this rye whiskey. Quickly becoming popular, it could be found in Speakeasies in large parts of the US. The favourite whiskey of notorious gangster Al Capone, legend has it that after his incarceration a few bottles even found their way into the cell of prisoner AZ-85 in Alcatraz. The production of Templeton Rye continued illegaly in small batches even after the end of Prohibition, and was relaunched as a legally produced rye in 2006, with a recipe kept alive by the Kerkhoff family. The mash is unusual due to it´s very high rye content, at least 90%, the rest being malted barley. Fermented with a proprietory yeast strain using a sour mash process. Distillation is first made with a double pass through a short column still followed by a pot still, ending with a 135 proof distillate, matured for at least four years in barrels of charred new American oak. 15-20 barrels containing 53 gallons each are used for each bottling. Since this should translate to roughly 5 700 bottles per batch, the small batch label seems at least reasonably accurate.

In a tasting glass Templeton Rye shows a light amber colour and a nose characterized by some early sweetness from exotic fruit and caramel, followed by hints of spiciness, making it distinctly different from the dryness of the Old Overholt tried earlier. The taste is medium bodied and apart from a certain rye spiciness it has light caramel tones while still keeping it´s dryness and avoiding the sweetness of a bourbon. In a tumbler with ice the caramel notes are more evident without really adding that much to the equation. All in all a very nice and smooth rye that deserves to be tried again.

Prichard´s rye
Prichard´s Rye Whiskey, 86 proof (43%)
Building on a tradition hailing from Benjamin Prichard in 1822, Davidson County, Tennessee, the present Prichard´s distillery was started in 1997, making it the first legal distillery in Tennessee since Prohibition. The bottles from Prichard´s has a very distinctive design making their product line easily recognizable. The both beautiful and exclusive look fits well into the concept of a small high quality distillery. This particular spirit is made from American rye, distilled in copper pot stills and matured in small barrels of American oak. Regrettably, not very much detailed information on the production of this rye is available on the net.

In a tasting glass it shows a pleasant amber colour, deeper than the Overholt and Templeton. The nose is at the first whiff dominated by strong notes of burnt sugar, which softens into something more caramel-like after giving the glass a swirl and letting it settle. Despite the caramel, it still keeps the dryness that could be expected from a rye, and some spicy, peppery tones in the finish. The taste carries a lot of spice, together with the typical rye dryness and a certain burn continuing well into the finish that is nevertheless quite smooth. Trying it in a tumbler with ice releases hints of caramel sweetness but dilutes the overall experience, and is not something I feel contributes to the experience. Prichard´s rye has the feeling of a carefully crafted whiskey, with a lot of personal characteristics while still being a good representative of its type.

Michter´s rye
Michter´s Single Barrel Straight Rye, 84,8 proof (42,4%)
Claimed to hail from the first American whiskey distilling company, formed in Pennsylvania 1753, the present Michter´s set up operations in Kentucky in the 1990´s. The recipe of Michter´s rye has actually been the same since 1753, and legend has it that George Washington used it to warm the troups of the American Revolution. Modern day Michter´s is made under the strict quality control of Master Distiller Willie Pratt, and doesn´t leave the barrel until he deems it´s reached the right degree of maturation. The whiskey is barreled at a lower proof than what´s usually done, and then stored in a special heat-cycled warehouse, claiming to make it richer and smoother while on the other hand losing more to evaporation.

In a tasting glass we get a nice amber colour, slightly darker than Pritchard´s. The nose has some aromatic corn sweetness, but is still clearly dryer than Pritchard´s, and with a full and spicy rye character. The middle and finish of the nose is quite long and complex, making it very enjoyable to stick your nose into the glass for a long time. There´s a distinct rye dryness to the taste with some hint of caramel in the beginning. The burn in the middle is followed by a fiery spiciness carrying through to the finish, which ends with a slowly fading tone of light white pepper. Trying it in a tumbler with ice diminishes the burn and lets some of the complexities come forward a little bit more. It might be a good idea to drink this whiskey with a small splash of water.

So, to sum things up – all of these nice ryes are good in their own way, with Prichard´s and Michter´s feeling a little bit more special. I´m going to return later with separate tastings of several of the whiskeys from both their product ranges.