“I’d enjoy a Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” President Obama said last fall as he talked about the new incoming Senate Majority leader, who’s also the senator from Kentucky. I guess what he didn’t say was that he’d “eventually” enjoy that drink, because this week found the President in Ohio, visiting Cleveland Whiskey.

Whisk(e)y aficionados (or snobs, depending on how one looks at it) have very definite opinions about how long a whiskey should stay in a barrel. The more time in a barrel, they say, the better the flavor you’ll get. I’ve had whiskey from the youngest (actually, this one I think) all the way up to 25 years old, and each has something different to offer. It really depends on what you’re looking for, and if you can keep an open mind when tasting something new.

Tom Lix, founder of Cleveland Whiskey, uses a technique that sounds a bit odd: he ages the whiskey in the barrel for six months, and then basically puts the barrel in the whiskey. In a steel vat, using a “uses a patent-pending oxygen enriched accelerated process”, he forces the whiskey back through the chopped-up pieces of the barrel. Filter out the splinters and voila, you’ve got a bottle of Cleveland Whiskey. I’m all for new techniques, and I’d been curious to try it, after reading about it in 2013. Here are my tasting notes – sláinte!

Nose: More alcohol than the sweet corn I’d expect from bourbon, a bit of a woody smell.

Color: For being basically 6 months and a week old, the color is that of a much older whiskey. Dark brown, with a golden tint.
Taste: A little sweet, with a pure alcohol burn at the end, with a very, very warm finish. A bit astringent on your tongue. There’s a little bit of almost a cinnamon in the middle, but the taste I’m left with after a minute or so is mostly wood.

Comments: I’d read mixed reviews on this whiskey, from descriptions that made it sound like you’d gone out in the yard and licked a tree, to more of a “eh, it’s OK” review. I’m leaning toward the latter. I like the higher proof, and after the first two sips, it seemed to settle down and be less severe.

Proof: 50% ABV (100 proof)

Price: $30 in Atlanta

7 pancakes out of 10 – not a bad bottle, and it’s a decent price

Article by: Jeanne Runkle



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