View our Main Site »

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey Review

In a mellow mood
By John Barecki

Corn plays an integral role in the world of whisk(e)y, helping create well-known flavors in American sprits thanks to its high utilization in Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and the evolving moonshine category. The use of this grain is also explored on the soil of many other countries including Japan, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa.

The flavors and aromas of corn whiskies can range from sweet and creamy to earthy and savory. They open your palate to what one integral part of the whole can do and they allow you to experience the multiple facets of a single grain. Mellow Corn is an interesting example of the effect corn can have on its own and also teaches your tongue to recognize its flavors in whiskeys you taste later on. 

One other reason you should think about trying Mellow Corn is that it is bottled in bond. The Bottled in Bond Act was created to ward off imposters in the early days of American distillation and continues today. In short it is a set of rules enacted in 1897 that must be followed while producing whiskey. The spirit must be made from one distillation season, by one distiller at one distillery. The spirit must also be aged in a bonded warehouse (under U.S. government supervision) for no less than four years. Outside of adding water to proof down the new spirit, the law prohibits the addition or subtraction of any substance (flavoring and colorant) or the utilization of any process to alter the original character of the end product.

Most often the products that fall under the Bottled in Bond Act are quite good. Rittenhouse Rye and Old Grand Dad come to mind and there are some higher-end examples as well, for example (when you can find it), the Colonel E.H. Taylor line made by Buffalo Trace Distillery. 

I took my time with Mellow Corn, enjoying all the interesting things going on inside this retro bottle, from the sweet to the savory to the earthy. It is in a sense similar to an eau de vie or un-aged fruit brandy in that it really shows the eccentricities of the single ingredient. 

    • Nose: New leather, woodsy spices, nutmeg, vanilla with a touch of a solvent-like aroma that is more pine sap, with a sour but slightly fruity note.
    • Palate: Medium to thin body, sweet corn front, earthy, lightly cooked maple syrup, tree sap, vanilla and light caramel; reminiscent of early season sweet corn with a dash of pepper. 
    • Finish: Relatively short, the earthy tones hold on with a light menthol mist; slight fruity notes linger in the middle.
Overall, Mellow Corn is a fun and feisty whiskey, featuring flavors you will find in most Bourbons, being that Bourbon is made from at least 51% corn and because the barrels in which they age Mellow Corn were once reserved for Bourbon. On its own, Mellow Corn has complexities that dance across your tongue. A touch of water will help bring out the earthy characteristics of the grain.

This whiskey has been in Heaven Hill's arsenal for quite some time now. Sadly it often gets pushed to the wayside because of its outdated look (which is making a comeback) or the oddball color, which is natural (see Bottled in Bond Act). But there is now a resurgence in the market mainly thanks to the emerging cocktail scene. This is a whiskey for those of you who either want to enjoy bourbon to its fullest extent or to expand your knowledge of the effect individual grains can have on whiskey. It's also a good way to create interesting but familiar flavors in your mixed drinks.

If you are interested in furthering your experience with single-grain corn spirits, I would suggest the Bains Cape Mountain single grain whiskey from the James Sedgwick Distillery in South Africa as well as the Nikka Coffey grain whisky from Japan and the single grain expression from the Teeling Distillery in Ireland, which uses old wine barrels for further aging.

Mellow Corn Straight Corn Whiskey (Heaven Hill Distilleries) is available now at Siciliano's Market for $12.99/750ml.

No comments:

Post a Comment