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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Corsair: Rymageddon, Genever & Triple Smoke Review

Corsair Ryemageddon and Triple Smoke,
$49.96/750ml at Siciliano's
By John Barecki

Although I would like to claim that I've always been this big of a fan of spirits in my drinking career, I look back at my craft beer and homebrewing hobbies and I realize how much they helped develop my palette, allowing me to concentrate on the singular flavors from the grain, hops and yeast. My previous studies fueled my desire to see what other people have been able to concentrate from all of these aspects, and this is what I like about the two guys that started Corsair Distillery.

Darek Bell and Andrew Webber began like a lot of us—brewing their own beer and making their own wine at home. After a snag in making a biodiesel plant, Webber decided it would be interesting to try his hand at distilling. Starting with their whiskey, everything I have tasted from them has a character that reminds me of beer wort before the act of fermentation takes place. This is especially true in Ryemageddon, their high rye whiskey, which has an addition of chocolate rye in the mash bill.

Ryemageddon starts with a nose full of spice and mint from the rye grains with a fun roasted malt tone from the chocolate rye. There is also a bit of black berry coming through as well. On the palette it is chocolate-covered ginger with a malty backbone. A little sweeter than most rye whiskey, it is still well balanced. The finish is full of spice and mint with a little black pepper and a nice lingering herbal tone that ends in subtle oak and vanilla. This in my mind is a whiskey for dark beer drinkers—lots of malt and roast followed by a balanced split between spice and herbal characteristics. Ryemageddon is very fun on its own but could make a cool Manhattan using a chocolate bitters instead of the usual aromatic.

Triple Smoke is the second whiskey I tried for this review. To me this seems an homage to the smokey beasts that come from Islay in Scotland while including some tastes and smells of American barbecue. Most scotch drinkers will find that this whiskey might seem a little on the lighter side and in my opinion the only thing that would make this whiskey better would be heightening the alcohol percentage a bit more to 45% as opposed to 40%, creating a bigger mouthfeel. There is a nice peat on the nose with a little bit of green chilies and citrus peel flowing into a fruity malt and savory smoke. On the first sip it is peat smoke and caramel corn with a little bit of red currant, dark honey and a bit of spice. The savory cherry wood and beech wood smoke comes more in the middle and end and is reminiscent of good barbecue sauce but not overpowering. The finish is an ashy campfire with subtle malt and spice.

Corsair Genever, $39.99/750ml at Siciliano's
The Genever style is a precursor to modern day gin. It shares the botanical side and neutral grain spirit base but has a malt mash added that is similar to a whiskey, creating a bigger and sweeter texture in the mouth. It is predominantly enjoyed in the Netherlands as “Dutch Courage”.  When you first go to sample this libation you will get similar tones of juniper, but there is a malty part that does not sit the same as in gin. There is candied and dried citrus and berry, as well as slight mint tones. As you sip it there is citrus with flowery and herbal notes similar to rosemary and lavender, with a bit of rosewater thrown in. There is the sweet malt that flows underneath becoming more bitter citrus—think the pith or rind of the fruit on the finish, which is like sitting in an herb garden surrounded by flowers with nice malty tones that linger to the end. For whiskey drinkers looking for a different challenge, this is a great sipper. I think it would also do very well in a Tom Collins, a Pimm's Cup or a Negroni.

These products are just the tip of the iceberg for Corsair Distillery. Their other products include a quinoa whiskey, pumpkin spiced white whiskey and a red absinthe made with hibiscus flowers, just to name a few. If anything, they are worth a try just to see what intricacies their spirits offer. 

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