Mike Williams is the owner of Collier and McKeel. He's a great guy that certainly wants to make a fantastic product while adhering to the Lincoln County Process. He customized a stainless tube that is about 4 feet tall or so and he fills it with maple charcoal.
Chuck, rather than do what many are doing and just sourcing stuff, I'd say he at least deserves some credit for distilling and aging a product from soup to nuts.
As for the most critical item - how it tastes? I'll have a review out soon, but I'd call the product solid, but clearly tasting of its age. There's a very up front corniness as you'd expect, very little sooty flavors, and simple barrel sugars, honey, and vanilla. It's simple and straightforward. In my opinion it clearly needs more time. I'd say it stacks up better than Baby Bourbon from Hudson. I'd suggest they start pulling some of the product off the small barrels and moving them to larger barrels and putting them away for a few years for the flavors to marry and develop a bit more. But I understand he's got to pay the bills and get some product out there.
It's about $30 here in Nashville area, which if you consider the small production, small barrels, etc. that's not terrible. Price/value is certainly subjective though.
Mike pushed hard for legislation to change here in TN in the hopes he could open C&M. He's a hell of a guy and isn't taking shortcuts other than age. Now that he has this thing started, I certainly want to see him succeed. The best thing he can do is keep socking product away. If he does that I believe we'll see something a lot more worthy of praise.
My critique, Jason, is more about the web site than the whiskey, since I haven't had the whiskey and I learned more about it from your post than I did from the web site, so I think my criticism of the web site is fair.
Assuming it's a 750 ml, $30 is a good price for a micro whiskey.
Legally, you can't switch barrels. You can, but the aging for legal purposes ends when you empty the original barrel. The second barreling is considered a finish.
Chuck, I understand. I misunderstood that you were referring to the website as the same ole same ole and not the product. And yes - 750ML.
As for the barrel shift that's good to know. I was under the impression that it could be done (and not impact anything from a regs standpoint). These small barrels do something almost unnaturally wood resiny in many cases. I don't know that we've seen products aged long enough in these small barrels to determine if that changes or mellows out over time, but the sub 1 year old stuff sure has this quality in most products that I have tried.
If distilleries want to go smaller I think Koval's 30-gallon happy medium approach is a better way to go. Can't be rushed.
Bought this stuff in Knoxville last week. It taste like whiskey flavored moonshine.....yuk. My wife rescued me by mixing it with sugar and some cherry juice. We call it a "Cherry Shiner". Waste of 30.00..
That is certainly not the response we usually get, and of course not the one we are hoping for, but we're sorry you didn't like our product. We hope you'll try us again in the future.
Collier and McKeel is a quality Tennessee Whiskey. It is a young whiskey and the product will continue to improve as the distillery moves more production into the 53 gal barrel. I have been fortunate to introduce many friends and family to the whiskey. And blind tastings against other Whiskeys and Bourbon have been favorable. The general reaction is to the smoothness of this whiskey. Go to the website and watch the new video. The Proprietor and family are great folks who do things the right way. They make good whiskey......