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Thirsty Thursday: Death’s Door White Whisky
By Mike Markel January 24, 2013
This week on Thirsty Thursday we’re diving into the world of white whisky, otherwise known as “white dog”. White whisky is simply unaged whisky before it goes into the barrel and contrary to popular belief whisky always starts out this way, gaining its color and added flavor from char aging. Death’s Door White Whisky is double-distilled, rested in stainless steel and finished in uncharred Minnesota oak to pull everything together.
Death’s Door Spirits is a young distillery that opened its doors in Middleton Wisconsin. They currently have three offerings that are made with organic hard red winter wheat grown on Washington Island including a wheat based vodka, gin, and the white whisky that we had the opportunity to sample this week. Death’s Door originally sought to create an aged American wheat whisky with their white dog but they noticed that customers were lining up for bottles of the young unaged spirit and they decided to enter the market as-is. Their decision paid off and Death’s Door White Whisky is a top seller in many tough markets including Chicago and San Francisco.
The bottle is one of the most creative and minimalistic we’ve seen. It was created by Grip Design in Chicago and was selected as a finalist in the 2012 clear choice awards. A striking black and white label is accompanied by a seal featuring Washington Island and the strait from which the company borrows its name: Porte des Morts or “the door of the dead”.
The nose on this whisky is surprisingly sweet and for many of us it was the first time we’d ever sampled a young un-aged whisky. After an initial nosing a few of our tasters mentioned that it smelled almost identical to Grappa (an alcohol made by distilling the leftover skins, seeds, pulp, and stems from winemaking). You can definitely tell that it’s whisky but it takes a few minutes to get used to the lack of oak that you would find in an aged spirit.
As we all took our first sip there were mixed reactions from our tasting panel. It was a house divided and either you were on board or jumping ship. For the whisky lovers in the group it was easier to accept that the liquid in front of us was indeed a glass of whisky. For the rest of the group it was definitely a brand new experience and many noted that they would rather enjoy it as a cocktail. The whisky is fairly sweet and the wheat shines through, after a few sips you start to pick up on vanilla and a mild taste of orchard fruit.
The finish was easy and smooth, a small bite at the end of each sip followed by a lingering sweetness that opened up to a blend of fresh fruit flavors. It is unmistakably whisky but presented in a new and interesting way.
*Disclosure: A sample bottle of Death’s Door White Whisky was provided for review purposes. Brash received no compensation for this review.
WHITE WHISKY MANHATTAN
METHOD: Build drink in an ice filled bar glass. Stir with vigor. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
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