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AaronWF
06-24-2011, 15:30
I haven't seen a post about this product anywhere else so I 'd thought I'd start one. This is made by Ransom, the same folks who make Old Tom and Small's Gins. Their explanation of this pot distilled whiskey is here:

http://www.ransomspirits.com/Whipper_Snapper.php

It sounds like they bring two kinds of barley into the equation: one is "malted in the Pacific Northwest" and the other is unmalted barley grown in the Willamette Valley. Also included is Kentucky corn whitedog re-distilled in their own alembic pot still.

Only the "heart of the hearts" is barreled in French pinot noir, new American coopered whiskey barrels and used American whiskey barrels. It seems the distillates are aged between 6 months and two years and the finished, blended product has an average age of 1 year.

I was recommended this whiskey while dining at Longman and Eagle here in Chicago based upon my previous pot-stilled glass of Willet 17yo SB (cask strength and marvelous!). The Whipper Snapper really stood out as hard-scrabble with a delicious, satisfying bite that stood up beautifully to the rabbit pate I was eating. It tasted clean and honest, and was perfect in the context in which I drank it.

So I finally just bought a bottle for $30, and I'm looking forward to tasting it outside of the context I just described.

I can't recall or find info on the proof (the bottle is in the car), but K&L Wines says it's 79% neutral corn spirit, 21% barley. Anyone else have experience with this whiskey?

CorvallisCracker
07-01-2011, 15:11
I haven't had it, but I can give you some background on it.

Tad Seesedt started Ransom distillery here in Corvallis back in 1997, in a tiny rented warehouse bay on the same block as my place of employment (if it wasn't for a hedge I would be able to see it from my office window). At the time all he was making grappa, using pomace from Belle Vallee winery (also on the same block).

In 2004 he moved to Portland, co-locating with House Spirits (http://www.housespirits.com/). He took his little pot still with him (left hand photo on this page (http://www.ransomspirits.com/about.php)). While there he continued to focus on grappa and gin, while the House Spirits folks were making whiskey, rum, akvavit and (mostly) gin and vodka. While there he acquired a larger pot still (see right hand photo on the same web page).

The House Spirits folks ran off a fair amount of a 100% barley malt whiskey (unpeated), which they aged 3 years in new, charred American oak, and it thus qualified for the name "straight malt whiskey". I sampled some of this in early 2010; it was okay, but at $50 it didn't seem like a good buy considering I can get 10yo Glengoyne (also unpeated) for $45.

Tad left the HS facility in 2008 for his new digs in Sheridan. He left the small still behind (where its current job is looking quaint for tourists) and took the new one with him. One of these days I need to get up there and check out the new operation.

When he left he took several barrels of the HS straight malt with him.

Since then he's been distilling both barley mash and corn mash whiskey. He triple distills and the final distillation is at around 160 proof - kinda high, but not the "corn neutral spirit" that K&L erroneously reports.

The first release of Whipper Snapper is 21% straight barley malt whiskey, distilled at House Spirits and probably 3 years old, while the balance (79%) is corn spirit aged for a shorter period (I'm guessing less than 2 years) in barrels previously used to age the straight malt and in barrels previously used to age Pinot Noir (Ransom is also a winery).

It hasn't been flying off the shelves here, and in January the OLCC dropped the price to $25.30 (had been $29.95).

Like I said, I've yet to try it. Maybe I can try a sample when I get around to visiting.

AaronWF
07-08-2011, 10:11
I've tasted my bottle only once in the last few weeks. I didn't want to reply here until I had a better handle on it, but my impression did not leave me anticipating a next sip, so I'll update what I have.

It definitely tastes more like a cross between scotch and Irish, as the barley is pretty forward. There's only the slightest hint of corn/barrel, and the lack of peat certainly makes it lean more towards Irish than scotch, but the barley flavors remind me more of scotch. I had a few sips before eating and tried to drink it with some spicy barbequed chicken: it did not go well with the spice.

I mentioned I had first tasted it with rabbit pate and it stood up well, but I really don't eat gamey food at home, so I'm not sure what else I'd want to pair it with. I do intend on revisiting it neat to try to understand it better, but it may be some sort of cocktail concoction where it finds its compliments for me.