Origin: Chicago, IL (USA)
Type: Rye Whiskey
Ageing casks: Minnesota Oak toasted
Added coloring: No
Owner: Koval Distillery
Average price: € 54.00
Official website: www.koval-distillery.com
I’ve already told you about Koval in my review of their excellent rye.
The most important things to know is that they are a very high-tech, meticulous Chicago distillery, use only organic grain from the Midwest, and age their whiskeys in small 30-gallon barrels made by a Minnesota producer. All of their bottles are single barrel (i.e., they come from the separate bottling of individual barrels, rather than a full blend of the entire batch).
As you might guess from the name, this Four Grain encapsulates different identities among the house whiskies: rye, barley, wheat, and oats.
As with all Koval, the natural colour of intense ochre is splendid.
The nose has strong notes of banana in all possible forms. Personally, I find that the grilled plantain may suggest the most precise idea, which is to combine the typical sweet banana note with a curious smoky note probably given by the toasted barrels. With the glass aerated, spicy notes of vanilla and cinnamon also develop against a background of caramelised sugar which maintains the sweet/smoky dualism. Unfortunately, you can feel also the alcohol, which is very strange because Koval is very careful to select only the heart of the distillation precisely to avoid these olfactory defects.
The alcohol is also the first thing you feel on the palate: this whiskey has a nice tough sip that gains in drinkability when diluted with ice (ideally one of those big professional spheres). When the alcohol subsides, you can also find similar scents in the mouth to those perceived on the nose: caramel, banana bread (the typical American dessert that on the palate also identifies to me sweet notes of wheat together with banana and toast), a mixture of hot and peppery spices, and a fairly dry biscuit finish. Personally, I don’t find it particularly creamy as has been suggested elsewhere. It’s hard to identify the full contribution of the four grains even if you’ve had a chance to taste them as single grains.
Compared to the rye which really amazed me (and to the millet which I will present soon) as a round and intense product, I find this four grain much more rustic and angular. The higher alcohol content and the particular taste might suggest certain experimental blends, but the price parity with the others in the Koval range (and with many other quality products) makes it in my opinion less attractive for straight consumption.
The Whiskey Wash