Maker: Two James, Detroit, Michigan, USA
Proof: 87 (43.5% ABV)
Michigan State Minimum: $50
Appearance: Dark copper.
Nose: Young wood, corn whiskey, underseasoned hardwood smoke, alcohol, dust, burnt caramel.
Palate: Full-bodied and hot. Burn, wood, corn syrup.
Finish: Sweet and tannic, heavy alcohol lingers for a long time.
Parting words: I’m not sure exactly what this whiskey is. The distillers have wisely decided to just call it whiskey this time, without a category stated. This gives them a lot more leeway than if they went with a specific type. I’m pretty sure doing that means that flavorings and colors can be added as well. If so, they were used judiciously. I’m guessing that smoke was infused into the whiskey by some undisclosed means as well. It’s composed of a 70% corn, 30% rye mashbill, so the website says, but one source I found described it as a blended whiskey, so it make be a blend of rye & corn whiskeys.
The closest thing I’ve has to this was Corsair’s Triple Smoke, which was a pretty good product for what it was. The concept behind this whiskey is that of a table whiskey, intended to pair with umami-strong Japanese cuisine. It is the only alcoholic beverage sold at the new Johnny Noodle King ramen restaurant in Detroit. I had it there and it went well with my lunch. Frankly, I like it better on its own. It does well as an after-dinner whiskey as a change of pace. I didn’t do too much mixing with it, but it was ok with club soda too.
Craft whiskey inflation is in full effect here, but it has a lot of things that set it apart from the usual craft fare to justify a slightly higher price. That said, this is a whiskey on the edge. It is well balanced and integrated but any more smoke or wood or new-makey flavors would wreck it. Let’s hope they can maintain that balance going forward. Johnny Smoking Gun is recommended.