Part 4 – The Weird, Weird, World of Whisky
When we think of a nice sip of our favorite whisky, what flavors come to mind? Coffee? I doubt it. Fish? Definitely not. Beaver butts? Never. Every industry attracts its share of oddballs. You make a great product for a few years, and then the weirdos move in. And whisky seems to have its share.
Let’s start with chocolate. Delightful in its own right. Not a bad pairing with some whisky. But the folks over at Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, Tennessee, have fused small amounts of pure, bitter chocolate with some of their very good bourbon, to produce a truly interesting product. This is not novelty whiskey. These folks have been in the whisky business for over two hundred years.
More on the flavor train is Bird Dog Whiskey, owned by the Western Spirits Company and produced by the Willett Distillery( also known as the Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) in Bardstown, Kentucky. As confusing as its lineage, their product range is downright baffling. Their flavored whiskeys include such standards as peanut butter, black cherry, praline, blackberry, peach, apple, strawberry, grapefruit and jalapano flavored whisky. Seriously…
Moving right along, it’s time to jump right into the deep end. Where the fish are. Herring, specifically. In a flavored whisky called Fishky, produced by the aptly named German independent bottler, Stupid Cask. These people bought a bunch of perfectly good, sherry finished Bruichladdich Single Malt and dumped it into some old herring barrels. Calling it “a tribute to Scotch Whisky history where whisky was stored in any kind of a barrel that would hold liquid”, the owner of Stupid Cask created a whisky which, while collectable, is pretty much undrinkable. If you want one, try Pinkernell’s Whisky Market, online.
Meanwhile, up in Tamworth, New Hampshire, the Tamworth Distillery is using the anal secretions from beavers to flavor their whiskey. They buy the castor sacs (that’s the scientific name for beaver butt glands) and extract castoreum, which, when added to the mix, creates raspberry and vanilla flavors. Raspberry and vanilla? Definitely not my first guess, given the source. Called Eau de Musc, it also contains birch oil, wild ginger, and fir needles.
In 1856, the Holladay brothers opened a distillery in Weston, Missouri, on the site of a limestone spring that Lewis and Clark had discovered fifty years before. One of the brothers, Ben, went on to create the company that would later become the Wells Fargo Express and the Pony Express. Flash forward to 2020 and the introduction of Whisked Pickle Whiskey to their already expansive lineup. Flavored with pickles and spices, they recommend it as a shooter, rather than a sipping whiskey. Probably a good idea.
In other news, Diageo, the world-wide whisky giant, has decided to embrace the 21st century with its experimental Whiskey Union concept. First product out of the think tank – Boxing Hares, a scotch whisky that is flavored, perhaps beyond whisky recognition, with hops. The best description I have read called it obnoxious. The brain trust has also released two other ‘new and exciting’ offerings – Smoky Goat and Huxley Rare Genus. So far, the recommended way to drink these products is mixed with lemonade. End of story.
Let’s end this defiling of the whisky industry with a trip to Asia. Specifically, Thailand, and its exotic jungles and diverse wildlife. So, how do you put a unique Thai twist on whisky? Add a snake, of course. Produced by Thailand Unique, this rice-based whiskey has a variety of animals put into the bottles, where it is then aged for a few months prior to sale. What types of animals? Well. a whole bunch of different kinds of snakes, including cobras, king snakes, grass snakes, and vine snakes. But that’s not all. If you’re hankering for something completely different, you can enjoy a dram that contains giant centipedes, Gecko lizards (try putting that in your 15%-off ads), and Thai spiders.
I really don’t know where else we can go from here. I’m sure that there are other flavored whiskies out there. Maybe we can close this session with a few of the weirdest whisky brand names out there. Like Chickencock, You’re Lookin’ Good Whisky, The Engineer, Reindeer Antler Whiskey, Big Ass Bourbon, and Sheep Dip.
That’s it for now. I’ll be back later in the summer with more facts, opinions and arguments. Until then, take a walk on the wild side with one of these from the weird, weird world of whisky. Cheers!