This whisky has an interesting story, going through a secondary aging in Japanese cedar, honoring the Omiwa Shrine at the food of Mount Miwa. The name means God Breath, inspired by the breezes coming from the Mountain of the God. You can tell there’s some story behind the whisky. And that first taste tells you there’s quality whisky in the bottle. I wish it had a better finish, which would have moved my final verdict from Bar to Bottle, but it’s still an interesting enough whisky to try at least once.
This is a swell whiskey. It’s balanced, bold—even muscular—and pretty much what a properly aged 15-year-old bourbon should taste like. Some sourced whiskey shows the talent or luck of the barrel hunter, so let’s call Grain & Barrel Spirits’ master distiller Gregg Snyder talented. It’s delicious. Ironically, I had this same whiskey from a full bottle bought by a friend, and it did little for me. A month later, I got a sample bottle from Chicken Cock, and it was praiseworthy. Go figure. I have no explanation for it.
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This was a pleasant surprise. I have had the opportunity to try a number of KO Distilling whiskies including their Cask Strength Offerings at 120 proof and at least 3 years in age. I found them very hot and a good bit of youth showing through. The Distiller’s Reserve is a different story however. The sample I tried was 52 months. A wheated bourbon that is Non Chill Filtered. I would get a slight hint of youth every now and again but overall, this was a very enjoyable bourbon. Soft and sweet going in with a good bit of spice at the end for a wheated bourbon. I have in my collection a 4-year-old Bottled in Bond wheated bourbon from a craft distillery in Kentucky that many people are raving about and I can say that I liked this KO bourbon a lot more.
The nose says, “Whiskey;” the palate says, “Bourbon;” the finish says, “Rye.” I like whiskeys that take you on a journey from the nose through to the finish. As a blend, Manchester Reserve takes you on less of a journey and more around some sharp turns. The nose almost seems delicate for the proof, but the bourbon notes on the palate, followed by a strong rye finish, lacks the harmony I expect in a blend. If “surprising turns” is your whiskey style, you may like this. I think it’s certainly worth a try.
I can’t say I was really looking forward to this whisky, so I was surprised to find how much I really like it. It drinks a bit hotter than it’s 92 proof, but just a drop of water affects that nicely. Too much water, and it’s just kind of a sweet water; add water judiciously, but do try it with a drop or two. The whisky is made with desalinated ocean water, and the company makes a big deal about that. it’s just water, though, but at least it’s clean water, and it actually makes a decent whisky.