Wednesday, October 22, 2014
An Exquisite Whiskey from Corti Brothers
Corti Brothers is a well known and loved Sacramento gourmet store. Owner Darrell Corti is a legend in the California food and wine world, known as one of the pioneers of the modern gourmet food movement. Corti knows his way around spirits as well; they even did a private bottling of 20 year old Van Winkle bourbon back in the '90s.
Corti Brothers recently sent me a sample of their newest whiskey which is set for release in November. For this whiskey, Amador Distillery, a Central California craft distillery, acquired 13 casks of a seven year old, 2006 Kentucky bourbon (70% corn, 25% rye, 5% barley) and finished it for about eight months in casks which had held Harbor Winery Mission del Sol for the previous 40 years. An Amador County, high alcohol dessert wine that is no longer being produced, Mission del Sol is made from late harvest Mission grapes.
This whiskey will be available in regular 750 ml bottles for $50 and in 375 ml bottles for $30; they will be selling it at their store, but it's possible that it will find its way to some other retailers as well (EDIT: David Driscoll notes in the comments that K&L will be carrying it - and see his blog write up as well).
Corti Brothers Exquisite Whiskey, 7 yo, 42.25% ($50)
The nose on this is pure port with some brown sugar. The palate is similarly big on wine with fruity port or sherry. Digging deep, there is a caramel bourbon note underneath, but I can't say I would pick it out if I didn't know this was actually a bourbon. The port notes increase as it trails off into the finish where it's joined by some oak.
It's not often that I taste something that's totally unique. Tasting blind, there is no way I would guess this was bourbon. If I had to compare it to anything, I would say it tastes most similar to the Navazos Palazzi sherried brandy than anything else I've tasted.
Usually when I taste finished bourbons, I'm left with the feeling that the finishing was just a method to add some sweetness to an inferior product. This one is more akin to a sherried Scotch where the wine notes become an integral part of the whiskey.
This is great whiskey and likely one you won't see again. I'm not sure hard core bourbon fans will like it since it has so little traditional bourbon flavor. Fans of port, sherried Scotch and brandy, on the other hand, will love it.