When I was at Distill America X last month, I had the
opportunity to try some new releases of whiskey. That’s one of many reasons why
I love tasting events – it is the whole discovery aspect and finding something
new to enjoy. One of the booths I
stopped by was Stillhouse Spirits Company. The owners are very nice and were
kind enough to provide me with a sample of Stillhouse Black Bourbon to review
with no strings attached.
The packaging is certainly unique, and it isn’t every day
that you come across Bourbon in a can, although perhaps it is because I see
Stillhouse cans in nearly every liquor store I visit. They’ve certainly done a
good job of getting their product distributed and because of the can, it grabs
a lot of attention. The Black Bourbon is a brand new product destined to hit
shelves this summer.
The can states it is “[a] masterful blend of corn, rye,
barley and limestone water. Barreled in charred new American oak, charcoal
filtered, rested and mellowed in roasted small batch coffee beans …” It carries no age statement, and as such, it
is at least four years old. The can also states
it is produced and bottled by Stillhouse Spirits Co., USA, which tells me that
the whiskey inside is sourced. Otherwise, it would say “distilled.” It is
“bottled” at 80°.
Speaking of proof, the proof is in the pudding, and as this
is a unique whiskey, it allows me to really open my mind and #DrinkCurious.
Black Bourbon comes in two packages: a 375ml with a
suggested price of $19.99 or, for $10 more, you can get a 750ml.
In the glass, the appearance was an appealing amber. Swirling it created a
medium rim with medium-to-thick legs that slowly crawled back to the pool.
At my chin, aromas of corn and coffee permeated my nostrils.
Lifting the glass to lip level brought a very subtle caramel. Letting it hover
just under my nostrils returned more coffee. Inhaling through my lips yielded a candy quality.
The mouthfeel was extremely thin, and for the most part, was
smooth. That smoothness can be credited to the charcoal filtering process.
The first sip brought
nothing but coffee flavor. Being one of the six Americans who doesn’t drink coffee, it was a little on the
strong side. However, I never judge on the first sip. A second toned down the
harshness and becomes much smoother. Just like on the nose, there was very
subtle caramel, but it is mostly overwhelmed by the coffee. Underneath it all
is corn sweetness. Subsequent tastes yielded nothing but coffee and corn.
The finish was soft but kept repeating coffee. I picked up
no other notes. It did nothing at all in my throat, everything was in the
Next was where things got interesting. The package is
designed to be placed in a pocket while camping or some other activity. As
such, you likely aren’t packing a Glencairn glass, and you’d drink it straight
from the can. Well, I wouldn’t, but that’s what the design is. In an even
greater attempt to #DrinkCurious, I did exactly that.
The spout, at least on the 375ml can, is fairly small. I was unable to get much
volume in my mouth. The coffee flavor was there, but so was the metal from the
can. That metal taste went all the way into my teeth (if that makes any sense).
Subsequent sips didn’t change that much, although it did mellow the metal out.
I figured at this point, I’d return to the glass, and even
though it is 80°, I’d try water to see if that did anything. After all, this is
a #DrinkCurious moment. If you’re familiar with my reviews, you know I use an
eyedropper to add two drops of water.
The result was that the coffee got stronger on the nose, so
much so that I didn’t need it anywhere near my face to sense it. The mouthfeel
built body and became creamier, but the
coffee then turned almost stale and sour. I tried several times to pick up a
finish, but it just dissipated quickly.
Bottle, Bar or Bust:
I’m going to be very frank. I’m a
whiskey aficionado. I lead whiskey appreciation and tasting events. Drinking
out of a can isn’t my thing and I teach heavily on the importance of the right
glassware to enjoy whiskey. I appreciate
finished whiskeys, I love finished whiskeys, but I don’t drink coffee. Even if
I liked coffee, finishing a whiskey should enhance the flavor, not make the
flavor. This is like drinking a cup of coffee that has the secondary benefit of
giving you a buzz. I really kept an open
mind and I really wanted to like this, but my recommendation is a Bust.