Woodward Limited Whiskey

Maker: Valentine Distilling, Ferndale, Michigan.Woodward Ltd

Style: Maple flavored bourbon

Age: NAS (about 4 y/o)

Proof: 88

Appearance: Dark copper with long thin legs.

Nose: Alcohol, maple wood, leather.

On the palate: Sweet but not cloying. Maple syrup (the real stuff), caramel, wood, alcohol.

Finish: Pleasant and drying. Touches of maple linger on as the wood (mostly maple) takes hold and then gently fades away.

Parting words: I’ve been sitting on this review for a while now because of the video reviews but also because I had a lot of questions about Valentine’s operation. Since it’s only a few miles from Sipology Blog HQ, I decided to check the place out for myself before finishing my review. I’m glad I did.

It is distilled and aged in Ferndale in a small building that also serves as tasting room and a cocktail bar. They also make a vodka, an elderflower flavored vodka, Liberator Gin, and a barrel-aged version of Liberator Gin (review coming soon). We also had a sample of their bourbon (presumably with the same mashbill as Woodward Limited) which they sell right out of the barrel at barrel proof from behind the bar. It comes it at 114° and is quite good for its age. The bartender said they also sell it by the barrel which prompted several questions from my friend and me about distribution and the three tier system, none of which the bartender was capable of answering. So if you would like the try the bourbon, I would suggest stopping by the distillery yourself.

At any rate, Woodward Limited Whiskey (named after Woodward Avenue, the historic Michigan highway that runs from downtown Detroit through Ferndale and Royal Oak and on to Pontiac) is a winner. The maple flavoring (syrup according to our bartender) doesn’t overwhelm, but it balances out the youthful edges of the whiskey nicely creating a pleasant after supper sipping whiskey. Where it excels is in cocktails. It makes a very good Manhattan and fantastic Old Fashioneds and Boulevardiers. I’m sure it would work very well in other cocktails as well. As for the price, it’s reasonable for a microdistilled whiskey at just under $40. Woodward Limited Whiskey is recommended.

Spirit of the Vineyard Michigan White Grappa

Maker: Black Star Farms, Traverse City, Michigan, USAIMG_20130731_114726

ABV: 40%

Note: Made using white wine leftovers (skins, pulp, seeds, stems).

Appearance: Clear with big thick legs.

Nose: Fruity and pungent, but not unpleasant. Like a fruity perfume. Ripe pear, table grapes, a hint of fresh cut cedar and lemon grass.

On the palate: Mild but full bodied. Sweet and mildly grapey.

Finish: delicately fruity and woody with more of that cut cedar aroma rolling around the mouth.

Parting words: For those who may not know, grappa is a brandy distilled from a fermentation of the left over byproducts of the wine making process collectively called pomace or marc. Grappa is the Italian word for such a beverage. Other versions of the same thing include marc (French), orujo (Spanish) and tescovină  (Romanian). The name grappa is restricted by the European Union to beverages of this type made in Italy, but has no such protection here in the U.S., hence this American grappa.

I haven’t had much grappa (or marc or the like) so the mental sample to which I am comparing this spirit is small. That said, this is very, very good. It’s not nearly as rough and raw tasting as the other grappas I have tasted and has a very pleasant nose that really shines in a Glencairn or Riedel Single Malt glass (I don’t own a grappa glass). It’s delicious chilled or at room temperature before or after a meal or on a hot afternoon.

Black Star Farms makes a wide variety of eaux-de-vie and brandies including a “red grappa” which is not actually red but made from red wine leftovers. It is also quite good, but the white has a very appealing perfumed nose, no doubt a reflection of the Riesling, Pinot Gris and other aromatic white wine grape varieties that lent their unused bits to the this spirit.

Spirit of the Vineyard Michigan White Grappa is highly recommended.

For further reading: https://sipologyblog.com/2011/07/08/a-visit-to-black-star-farms/