I haven’t even begun to compose this review, and I can already feel some of you rolling your eyes. Stay with me, though. Barbecue flavor notes in whiskey aren’t exactly unusual. There are a handful of Islay Scotch whiskies that hone in on it. I’ve come across a few American offerings as well. The point is, while I’ve never had a barbecue-flavored whiskey before, the notes aren’t alien.
Today I’m pouring Kurvball, which bills itself as The Original Barbecue WhiskeyTM. It is a real whiskey base distilled from corn, rye, and barley and aged in oak barrels. I have no idea whether those containers were new, vintage, charred, or otherwise. It carries no age statement. Kurvball is bottled at 68°, and a 750ml bottle runs about $24.99. Shooters are also produced with a price of a buck or two. Kurvball is made in the USA.
Kurvball came into being in October 2021, or about a year ago. There isn’t much information out there, even on Kurvball’s website. But, this is what it has to say:
The company seems to take most things lightheartedly, putting much effort into marketing. When I received my sample bottle, it came in one of the most creative packages I’ve seen. It looked like a take-out barbecue. Seriously. The bottle was wrapped in butcher paper, a “guest check” letter of introduction, etc. I usually don’t take photos of marketing packages, but in this case, it would have been a crime not to.
A pretty package is meaningless if the whiskey in the bottle isn’t, and the only way to figure that out is to #DrinkCurious. But, before I do, I must thank “The BBQ Pit Crew” for sending me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.
Appearance: There were several suggestions on how to enjoy Kurvball. I approached this as I do with every other whiskey. It was poured neat in my Glencairn glass. The color was deep and dark, mimicking a barbecue sauce. A medium-thick rim created husky legs that clung to the wall.
Nose: If you shoved your nose in a blend of Kansas City and North Carolina barbecue sauces, that’s what you’d get with Kurvball. I don’t know if my mind was fooling me, but I will swear that I also smelled smoked brisket. There’s not even a hint of ethanol. I stopped at this point and said to Mrs. Whiskeyfellow, “Please, God, let this taste as good as this smells.” She grabbed my glass and embraced the aroma, too.
Pulling the air into my mouth convinced me I was about to eat smoked meats.
Palate: A thick, syrupy texture didn’t help what my brain was now demanding, and the flavor was undoubtedly barbecue sauce. It was sweet. It was smoky. There was plenty of brown sugar and even a gentle kiss of vinegar. What hit the front, middle, and back of my palate? Who knows. For that matter, who cares?
Finish: Long and sweet, the brown sugar carried through to the end with just a touch of smoke.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Kurvball is absolutely unlike any Islay whisky that I mentioned at the beginning of this review. It isn’t anything like a flavored whiskey. It stunned me how natural it tasted and how much it toyed with my brain and palate. There was no alcohol quality to it, which puts this in the dangerous category, meaning you won’t feel the impact of the alcohol until you’re stuck in a chair, wondering how you got there and how you’re going to get out of it. I smiled the entire journey. Mrs. Whiskeyfellow tasted it and was impressed. It doesn’t matter that this doesn’t come across as a whiskey; it still gets my Bottle rating. Cheers!
Epilogue: Mrs. Whiskeyfellow took some and poured it into a glass of straight Pepsi. Wow was that tasty!
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 you do so responsibly.