Maker: Eastern Kille, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Selected by: Holiday Market, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
Style: Toasted barrel finished Michigan straight, rye recipe, bourbon
Age: 3 y/o (Barreled 10/31/17, bottled 11/4/20)
Batch: 70139 (or TOB9)
Proof: 125.2 (62.6% ABV)
Purchased for $45.
Note: Tasted with a splash of water.
Appearance: Dark copper.
Nose: Oak, sawdust, wood varnish, ash, whiff of amaretto.
Palate: More sawdust and toasted oak, with some sweet dessert flavors lurking somewhere in the background.
Finish: Sawdust, then burn.
Parting words: Eastern Kille (Gray Skies until dumb Campari threatened them with a lawsuit over the word sky, which they apparently own now), is a distillery and bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Like many other businesses of the type, Eastern Kille also gets distribution around the state. I thought I had reviewed one of their products before, but it turns out I hadn’t.
They seem to be one of the distilleries that is trying to do things “the right way” so I jumped at the chance to try a single barrel selection from one of my favorite places to buy spirits. The toasted barrel appealed to me because rebarreling can sometimes be a good way to give young whiskeys a little more depth and oak character. The downside is that if the whiskey is left in the second barrel too long or the finishing barrel is too small (or both) the wood can overwhelm the spirit, and turn it into what I call “beaver bourbon.”
Sadly, the latter is what has happened here. Eastern Kille Toasted Barrel Finish is an overly woody, unbalanced whiskey. There are some interesting things going on under all that oak, but they fade as soon as that finish hits like a 2×4. I tried mixing it with some success in a boulevadier, but that was all it was good in. The oak quickly overwhelms everything else, even a Manhattan made with a bold vermouth.
Eastern Kille Toasted Barrel Finish is not recommended. That said, I’m not giving up on this distillery. There’s a good, solid base here so I’m eager to try their standard bourbon. Watch this space for that review!