25 June 2016

Koval Distillery's "Millet" Whiskey

The Koval Distillery makes a diverse amount of Spirits and I have been lucky enough to have been send Four Samples of their drams by the kind people of Haromex.

From the Koval Distillery samples were send of:

First dram I will try is the Millet Whiskey. It is made from a mash bill that consists of 100% Millet, which in Dutch translates to "Gierst". I mention this because I'm Dutch and this is my blog. :) Call it a reminder to myself.

Short information list about the Millet Whisky:
  • It's organic.
  • It's kosher.
  • It's "Gluten-free". (Question to myself: Isn't all Whisky "gluten-free?)
  • It's family owned by Robert and Sonat Birnecker.
  • It's independent.
  • It's 100% organic Midwest Millet mash.
  • It's fresh American Minnisota white oak.
  • It's 40% ABV, 80 proof.
  • It's 0.5 Liter per bottle.
  • It's unchill filtered.
  • It's natural colour.
  • It's from Chicaco in the USA.

Just from this short list I am already enthusiastic because I love small independent openminded innovative distilleries ran by, well, Cool Folks!

First impression I had when smelling this dram was one of wood influence. The Roundstone Rye I smelled from Catoctin Creek had a much more Spirit Influenced nose (I think). This nose is quite different. I did feel some kind of spices alcohol tingle in my nostrils that I will need to smell again to make out if this is the millet or the alcohol. A nose that I could not quite put my finger on until I thought "banana". No Solventy notes. No medicinal notes. There is a definite spice/ethanol influence. I had the impression that this is quite simular to a single malt like Corsair Triple Smoke. I will have to smell side by side to investigate.

The taste is a mix between the wood influences you get in a fresh American white oak barrel matured dram. This is my current evaluation of the "wood" influence on a dram. I will compare more to be sure this is "accurate".

Do I like this dram? Yes I do. It is absolutely a "must taste" if you want to learn more about the actual influences of grains compared to woods. Expect a dram that something between a Single Malt from Scotland (but with more wood influence) a Bourbon (but without the corn sweetness). It is not really comparable with a 46% ABV rye since it's missing the overpowering spices such like white pepper. There is a hint of pepper in this, but the main influence in this would be the banana nose.

This tasting helps me understand the influence of wood and grain better. It will also help with my investigation into the actueel Sherry influence of "Sherry matured" drams.

Questions that I have about this dram
  • How long did it age for?
  • What was the Char?
  • What was the size of the barrel?
I got some of the answers strait from Sonat, the owner of Koval. She told me on Twitter that Koval uses 30 Gallon, Medium Char barrels for all their expressions. 

Tasks I set myself to
  • Compare to other 100% mash bills to see how the barrel is a constant and which notes are then from the millet. See my Bourbon Whisky blog for notes on it.  
This task has not been done yet, but the Scotch Test Dummies did a comparison in the video you can find below. 

There is lots of information out there about the Koval Distillery but one site https://oukosher.org sums it up quite nicely:

Koval is a Yiddish word for ‘blacksmith’ or ‘to forge,” but the term has also been used to refer to someone who does something out of the ordinary, or a “black sheep in the family.” It is thus fitting that Sonat Birnecker Hart and Robert Birnecker chose to name their company Koval, since it is not every day that one hears of a Professor of Jewish Studies and a Foreign Deputy Press Secretary leaving their careers to make spirits. Indeed they named the company after Sonat’s great-grandfather, a renegade in his own right, who left Vienna at the turn of the century for Chicago at the age of 17, in search of a new way of life, much to the dismay of his parents and gratitude of later generations, earning him the soubriquet, Koval.

More information about the background of the distillery can be found in some of the video's below.

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