Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | September 27, 2010

Berkshire Mountain Distillers New England Corn Whiskey

Berkshire Mountain Distillers is a distillery in western Massachusetts that has gotten a lot of rave reviews lately, particularly for their Greylock Gin and Ragged Mountain Rum. I was in the Berkshires this past weekend for my best friend’s wedding. On Friday night, after the rehearsal dinner, a few of us sat down to crack a bottle of BMD’s New England Corn Whiskey. I expected good things given some of the other successes from BMD. According to Fred Bouchard of the Massachusetts’ Beverage Business, the corn is local, usually within three to fifteen miles from the distillery.

The Corn Whiskey has a nose that’s heavy in apple, cherry and oak. It’s intense and earthy, with a health does of alcohol in the nose. The whiskey is a slightly amber straw color. The first taste is reminiscent of an Irish whiskey single malt, with a heavy oak flavor and rich mouth feel. Unfortunately, things begin to go wrong from here. The whiskey finishes with the fairly unmistakable hit of alcohol burn akin to an unaged whiskey. It’s not moonshine, as it is aged in cherry and oak barrels (five months if I recall the label correctly – I didn’t copy it down). But it certainly finished hot and rough like moonshine. It’s definitely an intense sip.

The folks who had procured the bottle of Corn Whiskey had hoped it’d be an interesting substitute to use in Manhattans. It was immediately clear that this was not going to be an option. I sipped the whiskey over ice and a bit of water and cold definitely cooled it out. But boy, it was intense.

Things really went off the rails on Saturday. All in all, after an initial small, neat sip to see what the stuff was like, I had about one and a half glasses of the NE Corn Whiskey on the rocks. I didn’t drink much otherwise. But I and most of the other people who drank the Corn Whiskey woke up with intense and persistent hangovers. I generally don’t write about the morning after a night of fine drinks on this blog, in large part because in my experience high quality cocktail ingredients, especially when enjoyed in moderation, make hangovers much less likely. I don’t like being hungover and that’s always a consideration when I’m out enjoying drinks. But the BMD New England Corn Whiskey seemed to be responsible for a truly bad hangover that lingered well into the late afternoon. The biggest upside of us drinking the whiskey on Friday night was that we knew not to drink it at the wedding!

I’m not a particular fan of unaged whiskeys, as it turns out, corn whiskeys. I don’t romanticize moonshine. I don’t think every microdistiller should feel obligated to put out a new twist on whiskey. I’ve had other BMD bottlings and really enjoyed them, but I was really disappointed with the Corn Whiskey. I’m sure there are some people out there who will really like it, but it just did not do anything for me. Well, other than give me a nasty hangover.

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Responses

  1. I didn’t find it as rough as you did for I was only poured a 1/2 oz or so straight and had it in a flip where it worked well. With that said, it is hard to convince myself that it is worth the $42 sticker price especially considering that whiskeys can be had for price or even half the cost.

    • Yeah I’m sure it would be more palatable in a more robust cocktail – a flip sounds pretty great. But drinking it on the rocks was just not something that I want to do again or would recommend to anyone who isn’t a die-hard corn whiskey fan. And yes, it is pricey.

  2. Any Whiskey that is only aged 5 months is going to be a little harsh. Most burbon is aged 2 – 4 years. If you are used to drinking JD or something like that then this will be a little more harsh going down.


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