Thursday, November 19, 2009

Booze on Parade: Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey

I've been waiting to get my hands on a bottle of Rogue's Dead Guy Whiskey since having the opportunity to sample their gin. Lucky for me the state has set up a temporary liquor store in Pacific Place Mall for the holidays which is carrying a respectable selection of local spirits. So off to the races, shall we?

The first thing you notice is that the copy on the bottle says that it's "Ocean Aged in Oak Barrels for 1 Month". This raises the following two questions:

  1. What, pray tell, is "ocean aging"?
  2. Is a single month sufficient to pick up a decent amount of character from the barrel?

As far as I can tell "ocean aging" is a bit of verbiage that Rogue has cooked up. Their distillery in Newport, OR is located on the coast; spirits aged near salt water have a distinctive character (see, for example, Islay scotch) so they're not wholly making shit up. However, the spirit is only aged for a month, so I suspect that any coastal influences will be negligible. Which brings us to question 2, which can only be answered by application of mouth to glass. Here's the rundown:

  • Color: Lighter than most of the aged spirits in my collection and, since Rogue claims that they don't use any additives, is presumably the result of either the base wort or time spent in the barrel. I don't know that color means all that much, at least in this case, because it looks an awful lot like a bottle of Clynelish 14 yr.
  • Boquet: Has that "good whiskey/bourbon" smell with a hint of woody-ness. Maybe a little bit of vanilla, a shade of butterscotch. It smells smooth; there's only a minor undertone of alcohol/heat.
  • Taste: Eh... not so much. A little bit sweet, a little alcohol. There's really not a whole lot of character.

Yeah, I feel bad saying this, but it doesn't taste like much of anything. So there's your answer: 1 month in the barrel isn't enough time for Dead Guy Whiskey to develop. Though, given my previous experience with whiskey's that have known the barrel for but a brief time, it's not surprising. At least it's not bad; at this stage of the game it still pretty close to a neutral spirit. My advice to Rogue is to let it age for awhile longer and see how it develops.

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