The first time I experience a new whiskey, I look for authenticity in the label and something other than creative writing and graphic design to justify the cost of a pour at a bar or the MSRP at a retail store. I appreciate the bottle design and a synthetic cork with a simple label concept that is not ostentatious.
The mashbill is misleading as 95% rye typically produces much more evergreen than sweet aromatics. The mouthfeel and sweetness causes this to drink much more like a bourbon than a rye. It’s more viscous and full-bodied than similar high rye whiskies. If you are into a standard rye whiskey profile this is not for you; but if you love good bourbon and typically stay away from rye whiskey this may be a gateway pour for you.
On the initial nose, I would have assumed this was a pour of Brenne Whisky. Those French staves must be the culprit on the bubblegum nose on both products. On the initial palate, I would have assumed this was Traverse City American Cherry Whiskey. I was surprised that the cabernet stave influence managed to tame the youth of the underlying product to an enjoyable experience.
I intentionally didn’t read about these whiskies before trying them and logging my tasting notes. I’m generally skeptical of “new techniques” and certainly skeptical of producers in Southern California. Throw in corn whiskey and the wine-barrel finished product and my inclination would be to write a negative review without even tasting it.
This is why blind tasting is so important in the whiskey world. Your palate doesn’t lie. Even when you want to argue with your palate all those points above. Seth Benhaim may be on to something here. He sourced some very young corn whiskey and turned them into something enjoyable, even desirable.
This is a true craft distillery putting out a unique product in very limited quantities. I’m not sure what Short Mountain is trying to accomplish with their whiskey, though. The brand notes describe a classic bourbon but everything from their mash bill to their distillation technique is far from classic. So it is not surprising that the bourbon is far from “classic.”