Monday, September 24, 2012
Craft Whiskey Wrap Up - Some Craft Whiskey Doesn't Suck
After a week of tasting craft whiskeys (and there will be more to come, though not immediately), I thought I'd record some general reflections. It's been two years since I wrote that Most Craft Whiskeys Suck, and two years is a lifetime in the very young craft movement.
As a whole, I think the quality of craft whiskey is improving (or at least there are more quality craft whiskeys out there than when I proclaimed them mostly sucky). Unlike some of the just plain bad whiskeys I had in earlier days, the Lost Spirits peated whiskeys and the McKenzie Rye tasted like high quality distillate. The problem is that they are still too young, or in the case of McKenzie, aged in small barrels which give them that raw, woody quality. Unlike some of the really bad craft whiskeys, though, those issues can be addressed, and Finger Lakes (the makers of McKenzie) have already laid down some spirit in large barrels.
Good whiskey takes time and there's just no way around that, but now we have some distilleries that are actually making good spirit, and hopefully in a few more years, they will have some decently aged whiskey that we can all enjoy.
Would I recommend buying one of these young whiskeys with potential. Certainly not. Yes, these whiskeys are promising, but I don't by bottles of promise, and certainly not at $40 or $50 a pop.
The bright spot here was the Balcones Brimstone, which is probably the only new craft whiskey I've tasted which I would actually recommend buying. It's also young, but it manages to coax out a lot of flavor and for some reason, possibly the heavy smoke, it doesn't have that new make taste (though even heavy peating couldn't cover up the new make taste in Lost Spirits' Leviathan).
I'm a thrill seeker, so as long as they make new whiskey, I'll continue to try it. For now, I'd say that I've replaced my bleak outlook about the craft whiskey movement with a bit of cautious optimism.