If you’re going to make decent whiskey, you need a lot of time. But time is money, and your whiskey is going to need years. So how does a distillery make money in the meantime? The answer is usually vodka and its juniper cousin gin. For a moment unaged whiskeys were all the rage and thankfully that moment has mostly passed. Is there a good way to use an immature whiskey? New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile seems to have found an interesting solution:
Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile will release their first aged product, Camp Robber whiskeyjack. A blend of bourbon whiskey, apple brandy, apple cider, and caramelized sugar, this unique spirit lets fans get an early taste of Tamworth’s first whiskey while it continues aging in the barrelhouse.
While many new distilleries might be tempted to release a too-young whiskey in the name of quick profit, patience is a virtue in Tamworth. While waiting for his whiskey, Steven Grasse saw an opportunity to do something more exciting — a subtle yet game-changing twist, like the rose and cucumber of his earlier creation, Hendrick’s Gin.
Camp Robber is a common name for the grey jay, also known as the Whiskeyjack — an Anglicization of wiskedjak or wisakadjak, the name of this mischievous bird in Algonquin myth. The Whiskeyjack is a common sight in the northern woods near the distillery, and its propensity for petty campsite thievery makes it a perfect emblem for this spirit, whose whiskey base was “stolen” from still-aging barrels.
A 16-month old bourbon made from organic corn and rye serves as the base, which is then combined with apple brandy and fresh apple cider. The result drinks like both a whiskey and an American applejack, with sweetness from the bourbon, acidity from the cider, and a spicy backbone from the rye supporting the light, floral brandy.
A blend of unaged apple brandy, lightly aged bourbon, fresh apple cider and caramelized sugar? That sounds delicious, and I’ve long thought bourbon and apple are friends.
Camp Robber Whiskeyjack Review
Name: Camp Robber Whiskeyjack
Proof: 80 proof / 40% ABV
Age: No age statement, but 16 month whiskey, unaged apple brandy, fresh cider.
How I Drank It: Neat in a Glencairn whiskey glass. Despite the fact that it straddles the line between spirit and liqueur, I decided to treat it like a whiskey.
Nose: Apple, corn, hint of caramelized sugar. It smells like what it is.
Palate: Sweet corn, apple, slightly tart.
Finish: Sweet with lingering apple. The burn that often comes with young and unaged spirits is reduced by the sugar and cider.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: I drank it neat and at 80 proof it doesn’t need much water to open up. A couple of drops of water smooth things out a bit but are unnecessary. If I was “drinking” instead of sampling, I could imagine enjoying Camp Robber on the rocks or even chilled. The promotional materials suggest substituting Camp Robber for the brandy in a Sidecar or the whiskey in a Gold Rush. I could also see it in a toddy.
Share with: This could appeal to whiskey or brandy fans, but also folks who are newer to sipping straight spirits. Offer it to that person in your life who likes flavored whiskeys.
Worth The Price: $44.99 is a little steep for me, but it’s a one-of-a-kind, limited release product.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: I like it. It’s far better than any apple-flavored whiskey. As a limited release, you’re probably going to have to get a bottle. Camp Robber is available in New Hampshire, New York City and will soon be available online at Warehouse Wine and Spirits.
Disclaimer: Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review.
We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.
Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm. Read Thomas' full profile.