Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | May 20, 2010

Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey

Charbay is one of the most interesting micro-distilleries I’ve encountered. Charbay is a family affair from California that do a wide range of spirits and wines. A few months ago I was fortunate enough to try some of their 2nd release whiskey, courtesy of of Joe Riley. It is a whiskey that has its basis in beer, distilled and flavored with hops that stands out with a remarkably unique character, unlike any other American whiskey. It was a pretty remarkable spirit, though the bottle price reached upwards of $300 here in DC.

I was fortunate enough to, almost simultaneously, receive an email from Susan Karakasevic, one of the owners of Charbay. I told her about enjoying the whiskey and she offered me up a sample of the newest product from America’s newest master distiller, her son Marko. The new whiskey, Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey, is actually Marko’s thesis project:

To become a Master Distiller, Marko was to source, distill and bring to market a spirit equal to or better than spirits he’d distilled under his Master. Marko’s thesis is a whiskey called Doubled & Twisted, which is an old distilling term referring to a critical point in the second distillation. When he told his father he had sold his first case, Miles, beamed with pride, shook his hand and said: “Congratulations, Marko. You are now a Master Distiller. Let’s drink some whiskey and smoke cigars.”

Doubled & Twisted is an unaged whiskey – white dog is really becoming popular these days, no? It weighs in at 99 proof. While Marko is still working on a barrel aged version of this whiskey, the initial product is clearly ready to go. Like his previous whiskeys, Doubled & Twisted is based around beer and hops:

Whiskey is distilled from beer, globally. If the final result is a 20 to 1 reduction, doesn’t it make sense to use the best beer possible? That’s what I did and I am sure the IPA beer I used, hops and all is the most expensive beer ever used to make whiskey. The result of using a great IPA is all the hop flavors and two row malty flavors distilled over into the final spirit. The hops give the D&T a fruity, floral, very green spicy character, unlike any other whiskey out there. That is exciting to me. I did not want to duplicate anybody’s style of Whiskey; I wanted to make my own style that accents the ingredients.

Doubled & Twisted is totally clear. In the glass it has very fine, thin legs. The nose is dominated by cherry and apple, with light hints of honey and grapefruit and floral elements that I wasn’t able to clearly pull apart.

The whiskey tastes very green and spicy up front, with a strong hops taste that comes as an amalgamation of pepper, clove and curry. The cherry that I smelled in the nose hits in the mid-palate. There is a light burn in the back of the mouth that fades quickly. While there’s a lot of flavor going on with this whiskey, it isn’t entirely balanced throughout the mouth, with much of the taste hitting the front of the tongue and fading towards the back of the mouth.

Adding a bit of ice really mellows out the spice and heat, but still there is a grassy, green, hoppy taste. The water brings out more subtle flavors of cherry and a little bit of banana. With the ice and water, Doubled & Twisted actually seems closer to a white rhum agricole than any aged whiskey I know.

Though I was really unsure what direction to take this whiskey in with a cocktail – I’ve never mixed with an unaged whiskey before – I thought the strong cherry flavors I get would pair well with maraschino liqueur. As such, I thought it might be fun (and a little crazy) to try the Doubled & Twisted in a Fancy-Free Cocktail.

Doubled & Twisted Fancy-Free

1.5 oz Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur
Dash of Angostura bitters
Dash of Orange bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass

This turned out to be a great decision. The Fancy-Free with Doubled & Twisted is much fruitier and lighter than its bourbon-based relative. The unaged whiskey pairs really well with the maraschino. There’s still a good deal of heat, showing that while the flavors are compatible, the Doubled & Twisted’s unique character is not lost in the cocktail.

So with all that in mind, what can I say about Doubled & Twisted. It’s different and unique. The use of hops really takes whiskey in an exciting direction and a clear sign of Marko Karakasevic’s creativity as a Master Distiller. I don’t have a lot of experience drinking unaged whiskey (I think the last time I did, it was real West Virginia peach moonshine), so it’s hard for me to measure this against anything other than more traditional base spirits. It is definitely different and as I saw with the Fancy Free, could open up to a lot of potential cocktail pairings. And with a bottle price of $58 (but if you’re in California only) it actually is something that you can stomach the chances of mixing without going into palpitations like you might with their aged whiskey. If you like unaged whiskey and can get your hands on some Doubled & Twisted, I’m sure there are great things to be done with it in cocktails. If not, you’ll have to look longingly to the West.

Disclosure: This post was made possible because I received a free sample of  Doubled & Twisted Light Whiskey.


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