- DISTILLER: Steel Bending Spirits, LLC - Three Chord Bourbon
- MASH BILL: 74% Corn | 22% Rye | 4% Malted Barley
- AGE: Blend of 4-year-old to 12-year old bourbons, sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee
- YEAR: 2018
- PROOF: 81 (40.5% ABV)
- MSRP: $39.99, available in select locations in Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and California
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Rye Bread | Hint of Rose Petal
TASTE: Rye Spice | Hint of Almonds | More viscous mouthfeel than most lower proof bourbons
FINISH: Short to medium length, rye spice
SHARE WITH: If you know someone who is intrigued by the story Three Chord is pushing, you might share this with them. Do not share with musicians, as they’ll immediately call the process into question. It’s more about the gimmick than the whiskey, so serious whiskey drinkers will likely balk at it as well.
WORTH THE PRICE: There are significantly better bourbons available for less money, but you don’t get the tonal vibrations with those bourbons. So maybe it’s $20 for the bourbon, $20 for the tonal vibrations. Or buy a bottle you like, put in on your subwoofer, and crank up some Parliament Funkadelic.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: If you’re intrigued by the story behind Three Chord, I’d recommend trying a pour at a bar first. it tastes like young craft but is labelled as a blend of 4-to-12-year-old sourced bourbons. It lacked more traditional bourbon flavors that were supposed to be brought out by the use of tonal vibrations to finish the blend (caramel, vanilla, & maple). The whiskey alone puts it in the bar category for me, but when I add in the tonal vibrations gimmick, it goes into the bust column.
OVERALL: TONAL VIBRATIONS! Seriously, the moment I heard about tonal vibrations being used in the aging process for bourbon, one eyebrow raised up so far it could have hit an airplane passing by. Three Chord’s founder, Grammy award winning guitarist and producer Neil Giraldo, says he “saw how drinks resting on our guitar amplifiers would vibrate and wondered if the implementation of sound and vibrations could also be used to alter and enhance the structure of a seasoned spirit.” A side note from backline companies across the globe: take your damn drinks off our gear!
I am fortunate to have many friends who are incredible musicians. One of my best friends is an accomplished percussionist who also happens to be a lifelong bourbon drinker. When I had the opportunity to taste Three Chord, I had to invite Matt along to join me.
The bottled arrived in a stunning box made by Michigan-based Woodward Throwbacks Reclaimed Woodworking. You never have a second chance to make a first impression, and my hat’s off to Three Chord for going the extra mile to deliver their new bourbon in such a beautiful way. Naturally, I also thought to myself that if the packaging was this nice, is that covering up for a subpar product inside?
“I don’t know man, but this guy must know Phil Spector because he just murdered some bourbon!” –Matt
As Matt nosed the bourbon, I read him the accompanying info from Three Chord. “Three Chord applies tonal vibrations to finish the blend and extract additional caramel, vanilla, and maple notes from the barrel.” His response had me on the floor immediately: “I don’t know man, but this guy must know Phil Spector because he just murdered some bourbon!” Matt wasn’t a fan, and upon hearing more of the story, had a few choice words for the use of tonal vibrations in aging…I’ll let you guess what those were. He additionally thought the bourbon tasted very young and was surprised to learn it was a blend where the youngest whiskey was 4 years old. I had already tasted the sample prior to Matt’s arrival and my notes were along the same lines as his but not quite as harsh.
I found a heavy hit of rye bread on the nose, which was pleasant, along with a hint of rose petal. Adding a drop of water muted both and brought about what I can only describe as Play-Doh (add that one to the ridiculous tasting notes you’ve seen). More rye on the palate and some light nuttiness reminiscent of almonds, with a mouthfeel that was a tad thicker than expected. But the overall taste leaves me searching for typical bourbon flavors that just aren’t there. The finish is more of the rye spice and not much else, fading quickly before coming back with a bit of spice.
Three Chord has a great story, but I saw no evidence to support the claims they were making. I found no notes of caramel, vanilla, or maple, the three things they’re saying are more prominent because of the tonal vibrations. They also say that finishing in this manner gives the whiskey a character that is more typical of a seasoned spirit. If anything, the exact opposite of this has happened with Three Chord, as it tastes more like an 18-to-24-month old whiskey.
I imagine the marketing for Three Chord will be successful in selling it to music fans, as the story is intriguing. But the whiskey in the bottle isn’t.
Inspired by music, Three Chord Bourbon embodies the spirit of creativity and innovation.
In our process, we begin by carefully sourcing barrels from select American cooperates. Using the latest barrel-toasting techniques, we char new American Oak from the Missouri Ozarks to a precise temperature which allows us to extract the unique flavors of maple syrup, vanilla and caramel from the wood. Then, with our unique “Perfectly Tuned Process”, we blend carefully selected bourbons from the finest regions of the Country to create our desired character profile in which the sound enhances the “smooth”.
Each of our family of products, our award-winning 81 Proof Blended Bourbon, our 107 Proof 12 Bar Reserve, and our soon to be released Amplify Rye has the same handcrafted, artisanal dedication to quality which ensures that each bottle has a taste that has been “Perfectly Tuned”.
THREE CHORD’S MASH BILL
Our bourbon is a blend of up to 12-year-old bourbons expertly crafted to create a smooth taste profile of caramel, vanilla, and maple-soaked notes in each and every sip. Our mash bill is 75% corn aged in first char American Oak, 21% rye, and 4% barley malt.
Appearance: Clean, warm, brilliant caramel and amber color blends.
Nose: Warm, rich caramel, vanilla, and maple on the nose.
Taste: Created to reach all areas of your palette with different flavor senses. It begins with a smooth start, developing spicier complexity at mid-palette, finishing off long as it moves to the back of your tongue revealing bold, smooth flavors.
Finish: Silky smooth vanilla and caramel tones that linger warm and satisfying.
Disclaimer: Three Chord Bourbon 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.