Friday, January 27, 2017

Review - Whiskey Thief

Whiskey Thief is a new bourbon that was launched in the UK late last Summer.  It is the culmination of an idea that formed in 2010 and has been in development ever since.  The aim of Whiskey Thief was to create a bourbon that was accessible to new whisky drinkers in terms of flavour profile and price point.  Many new brands are produced by craft or artisan distilleries and their products are boutique, small batch and expensive as a result.  Whiskey Thief is designed to be the opposite of that and both easy drinking when taken neat or as the base spirit in a cocktail.

Whiskey Thief was created by a group of friends with many years experience of working in the bourbon industry.  The spirit is produced at the MGP Distillery in Indiana and is made from two different mash bills - one with a heavy corn base and another with a heavy rye content.  These are matured separately and then married together for a short period before bottling.  The group worked with MGP to develop a unique maturation programme that includes adding addition wooden staves to American oak casks - this increases the wood to whiskey ratio and allows them to maintain quality but keep the age and price down.

Whiskey Thief is distributed in the UK through Amathus Drinks and is available in supermarkets and a select number of specialist retailers and American whiskey bars.  It is bottled at 40% ABV and is priced at £25.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a deep orange with a hint of russet brown and the nose is packed with sweet and intense wood spice aromas.  The sweetness has a honey and golden syrup-like quality to it, while there are also aromas of vanilla essence and candied orange.  The wood spice is reminiscent of cinnamon and freshly sawn oak with a hint of white pepper and clove.

On the palate the same sweet vs. spice profile is in evidence.  After a lovely initial hit of candied orange, the sweetness really comes through well.  Again there are notes of honey and golden syrup, plus hints of maple syrup and burnt caramel.  The wood spice builds in intensity with time and threatens to tip the balance - think of cinnamon, all-spice, fresh sawdust and hints of sandalwood, bitter chocolate and the faintest pinches of ginger and white pepper.  The finish becomes a little dry and woody, especially once the sweet characteristics fade.

What's the verdict?
The Whiskey Thief is impressive as a product and offers good value for money too.  We sampled it at the launch, which was at the wonderful Lexington bar in London, both neat and also as part of a cocktail.  Its 'signature serve' as designed by those behind the brand was the Ginger Thief - a simple but lovely mix of the whiskey with dry ginger ale and orange peel.

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