Every so often, I come across something decidedly different. I revere different when it comes to whiskey. It doesn't mean I always like it, but I respect the effort of any distiller willing to take a risk and think outside the box.
We've seen whiskeys that have been "aged at sea." Jefferson's Ocean is probably the most well-known. Each batch is known as a Voyage, and some voyages are definitely better than others.
Founded in 2013, Pilot House Distilling of Astoria, Oregon, offers an annual, limited-edition whiskey it ocean-ages, called A-O Come Hell or High Water. The A-O comes from Astoria and Oregon. It starts with a mash of Northwest Premium two-row Pale Ale barley and utilizes A01 Imperial yeast. That's then distilled and aged for 18 months in the warehouse. From there, the barrels spend seven months on a South Bay fishing vessel. In the case of Batch 4, which Pilot House provided me in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review, the fishing vessel harvested shrimp.
Bottled at 80°, this limited-edition single malt commanded a $60.00 price tag but is now sold out. However, that doesn't mean you can't get your hands on one, it just may be difficult to come by. I'll #DrinkCurious and let you know if this is worth hunting.
Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Come Hell or High Water appeared as tarnished gold in color. It produced a heavy rim with fat, sticky tears that eventually worked their way back to the pool of liquid sunshine.
Nose: Malt was obvious on the nose. But it was joined by strawberry jam and cinnamon. The aroma of seaweed took me a few takes to figure out what it was. There were both musty and saline qualities to it. When I breathed the vapor into my mouth, I tasted grapefruit and malt.
Palate: A thick and viscous mouthfeel greeted my tongue as it passed my lips. There was a very light briny tang that was married to apricot and cinnamon on the front. Mid-palate suggested flavors of cereal, vanilla, and white grapefruit. Toffee, oak, and white pepper created the back.
Finish: Initially the finish was fairly short. A subsequent swallow fixed that and it became long, with white grapefruit, oak, nutmeg, cereal, and white pepper.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Come Hell or High Water is absolutely a unique pour and in a good way. I loved the mouthfeel. I believe it has been properly aged, perhaps the sloshing around of the barrels on the fishing vessel is more than a simple marketing gimmick. Yes, this is sold out and you'll have to wait for Batch 5 to be released if you're going to buy it at retail. But, if you do come across Batch 4, I'd suggest picking it up, you'll find it tasty and captivating. This one gets a Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs that you do so responsibly.