Monday, November 1, 2010

Big News From Two Of My Favorite Little Distilleries.

Next week, Garrison Brothers in Texas and Koval here in Chicago will make major whiskey debuts.

Garrison is finally ready to release its signature Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey, which goes on sale Wednesday, November 3, only in Blanco and Gillespie Counties, Texas. The 1,800 750ml bottles, at 47% alcohol (94° proof), are expected to sell out quickly. This is the product—a wheated bourbon—that Dan Garrison set out to make when he started the distillery several years ago and it will set the standard for his future releases. Suggested retail is $69.95.

Koval, which already has a large portfolio of products on the market, will have its Lion’s Pride Organic Whiskey in stores by next weekend. This is Koval’s first aged whiskey. They haven’t announced the size of the release but since the whiskeys are only lightly aged, they probably have enough in the pipeline for the release to be continuous. Initially there will be four products in the Lion’s Pride Organic Whiskey line: rye whiskey, oat whiskey, dark rye whiskey, and dark oat whiskey, all at 40% alcohol (80° proof). Suggested retail is $47.99-$49.99 (750ml).

All four of the Lion's Pride whiskeys are aged less than two years in new, charred oak barrels. They are made from 100% rye grain and 100% oat grain respectively. Barrels for the regular expressions are only lightly charred. The 'dark' expressions are a bit older and the barrels have more of a char.

I’ve tasted the Lion’s Pride and while I haven’t tasted this exact release from Garrison, I’ve had a taste or two along the way. I can recommend both of them enthusiastically. In fact, I hope people who manage to score bottles will drink them and not just keep them on the shelf as collectibles. Both distillers have done a remarkable job with some very young whiskey.


Paul said...

Agreed, at least for the Koval product, as I've not tried the other. The Koval offerings are, like the rest of their lineup, are great. Very smooth whiskies and quite different than the typical american whiskey.

AaronWF said...

I've seen Koval at Binny's, but I've never ventured to fork over the dough, so thanks for giving me an excuse to do some 'xperimenting. I had no idea they were a Chicago distillery. In fact, I was under the impression that North Shore Distillery was the only distillery in IL; obviously an ignorant assumption, as their website claims nothing of the sort.

So, any other local Chicago gems I should look out for? Do you have any knowledge of North Shore producing a whiskey?

I need to do some more rooting around on your blog, but my first reads here (as referred by the distinguished Ralfy of have been criticisms about marketing practices in the whiskey industry - a very important topic to be sure, but I was glad to find this reference to Koval, because above all else, I'm looking for reasons to seek out and taste new bottles!

I must admit it was hard to read your criticisms of Templeton Rye, as I've sworn by the stuff since I discovered it over a year ago. Again, I appreciate your punditry on the subject of marketing, but this knowledge about one of my favorite products begs a number of questions: how is quality to be judged when the source of the product is unknown? Can a young, inquisitive palate mistake quality in a favorite pour for marketing affect? Is your solution to the problems you outline in the marketing of products made by such companies as Templetons simply full, transparent disclosure, or is the missing ingredient closer to having an on-premises distiller working through their crafting process? Would you hold a product like Knob Creek or Maker's Mark in higher esteem to Templeton's Rye as whiskies simply because they are produced in full on site rather than sourced off and bottled on? How do taste and quality figure into this equation?

Anyway I look forward to reading past and future posts of yours!

Chuck Cowdery said...

The new whiskeys made by Koval are called Lion's Pride. I'm not sure if the Koval name is on the label, but it's not prominent.

North Shore has not done a whiskey so far.

My advice to all producers is the same. Tell the truth.

My advice to all consumers is, seek out sources of information that are independent of the producers. Like me.