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Koval Four Grain Single Barrel Whiskey Review

Distillery: Koval. ABV: 47%. No age statement. Mashbill: oats, malted barley, rye, wheat (proportions unspecified). Price: $50

Chicago, to me, remains the quintessential American city. Diverse, insular, innovative, slow to respond. Chicago can be everything at once. Many faults, to be sure. But there’s greatness in its neighborhoods and the people and creations that stem from them. Chicago gave us the greatest newspaper columnist of all time in Mike Royko and it’s given us a damn fine and innovative distiller in Koval.

Like Royko, who blended high satire with gritty reporting , the Koval Four Grain Single Barrel Whiskey is a wonderfully singular expression. Jim Murray thought so as well, having named it as a runner up for U.S. Micro Whisky of the Year in his 2017 Whisky Bible. (See our Koval Millet Whiskey review for another intriguing release.)

The nose of the Koval Four Grain reminds me of a great cookout where cornbread, amber beer, and honied ham take a place of honor. There’s a faint medicinal waft to the back of the nose that balances out the sweetness.

The palate is earthy and light at once. An initial viscous mouth feel gives way to sensations of the whiskey literally popping on your tongue. There’s roasted yam, tart orange, and a hint of pig roasted on a spit. At the end, dark cherry, wood chips, and lovely dark, dark cocoa.

If I have any quibble with the Koval Four Grain, it’s the finish, where the medicinal note predominates and overwhelms. But this is a superb expression of a new-classic distillery, one that I’m proud to have in my home town.

Here’s to home and the drink and food that makes it one. – TM

Buy Koval Whiskey online at Mash + Grape

Koval graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Feature photo from http://www.noblespirits.com.au

Koval Single Barrel Millet Whiskey Review

Distiller: Koval. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Grain bill: 100% millet. Price: $45

As a life-long Chicagoan and a whisk(e)y drinker of slightly younger vintage, I’ve long enjoyed the very fine spirits produced by the Ravenswood neighborhood distiller, Koval. I love that they’re not afraid to play, that they have a commitment to organic production, and that they continue to seek out new and interesting grains. So when I saw they had a millet whiskey, you better believe I was intrigued.

The Koval Millet is aged in new American oak from Minnesota, and according to the distillery, is the first whiskey to spring from millet. Millet is sometimes known as the “fourth grain” of whiskey manufacturing–a flavor component that can be added to the more common corn, rye, and barley–and it’s a kosher-friendly grain. (For comparison, see our Koval Four Grain Whiskey review.) Koval’s innovation is distilling from 100% millet.

It creates a very interesting whiskey. I got a smokey vanilla nose and a sweet palate of spice and rich caramel.There is a definite viscous element to the drink, which won’t appeal to all. I found the finish to be fairly quick, although not so much so that you don’t get the heat that rises throughout.

Overall, I’m quite glad I tried it and there was much to enjoy. I wouldn’t say it’s a must buy, it’s a very interesting and complex whiskey.

Cheers, friends! – TM

Buy Koval Whiskey online at Mash + Grape