You know, it's always tricky to evaluate unaged whiskey (or new make, or white dog, if you will). I'm tempted to judge it by different standards, but I can't -- I'm always grading stuff on a pure level of personal enjoyment.
In this case, when I first tried it, it was one of my first experiences with new make -- but on top of that, this is also a whiskey like no other before it. So I was both confused and impressed. But as I've gotten to know whiskey better, I've come to, uh, not love new-make flavors in general. I can appreciate them better, but I find them less interesting than I once did, if that makes any sense.
But this is a bizarre type of new make... and it's not really aimed at me -- I think Marko intended this for mixing (and I've heard that mixologists are really having fun with it). So take my notes and rating in mind with that.
The nose announces that loud and clear. Knowing that this was distilled from IPA beer, it becomes immediately apparent what you're smelling -- it actually does smell a lot like concentrated IPA. That unique signature of hops is all over it. If you didn't know that's what you were smelling, this might just confuse the hell out of you, for better or worse.
Okay, let's see about the palate... oh, neat. Woah. It's quite sweet, and very unique. Almost minty, definitely hoppy. Just some odd, but very cool flavors going on in here. A bouqet of wild grasses and meadow flowers (Quenn Ann's Lace?). Along with... um... hmm. It's just bizarre in a good, "I've never tasted this" way.
In the finish, the experience loses a little cohesion as some alcoholy tinges becoming a little more prominent than I'd like. But considering that this is "white dog," I'm shocked that's all the spirity notes there are. And those notes don't ruin the experience. Some may have trouble with this whiskey, but I personally like it quite a bit. Any "rough" parts in here aren't from the alcohol content as much as they might be from flavors that you/we aren't accustomed to. For a whiskey aficionado, this is definitely one to try.
On the rocks, my notes read "Yeah, that works!" The sweetness becomes amplified somewhat, and some of the "trickier" corners get rounded off. C+ not because it's average, but because thats how much I like it straight. I'd say this is for making some crazy cocktails.
N: Dear god, this nose is really not my thing, it's very grappa-like, with raw alcohol coming quickly behind it. Kinda makes me ill. P: Dry and herbal, it has its moment but then... F: Reminds me of liquor distilled from sugar cane that I tried in Peru, just kinda sweet and nasty and not for me.
While I think this is a unique effort and I don't want to discourage such experimentation, this I just find undrinkable. Since I made a sea change regarding the earlier Charbay releases, I'm gonna hold off grading this one until after a few retastes.
Retaste a few weeks later: Nope, still don't care for it. Tried it on the rocks and it just tasted the same but watery.