These guys are good. Really good. Paul is an a great guy to chat with, and a real artist with spirits. He's hungry, enthusiastic and more than a little personable.
See the site for more details on what they are doing: http://mbrdistillery.com/
And this thread here on the site for Paul's post and an overview of his other offerings: http://www.straightbourbon.com/forum...ad.php?t=15434
I've had a couple of chats with him, and finally got an assortment of stuff to try (Note - I haven't tried any of the regular White Dog or Bourbon):
Black Dog - white corn whiskey. Unaged, and a significant portion of the corn is smoked with tobacco leaves. My first thought was Islay Scotch new-make, but the sweetness, and corn cereal flavors really run throughout. It's not burnt popcorn, but more like toasted corn flakes on a campfire. For new make, it's amazingly smooth and tasty. The balance of the smoke and the sweet is outstanding. This is a quality white spirit that is drinkable as-is (and I don't like new make, usually).
TASTE: cereal and grain, a bit farmy and I have to admit I miss the vanilla and spice of oak and rye influences in bourbon, but it's sweet, and the corn-flakes and peaches (!?) are quite appealing in combination. Spirity to be sure, but refreshing. Could make for a fascinating cocktail.
Ultra Black Dog - Paul also keeps some juice on hand that is 100% smoked corn mash bill (the regular black dog is both smoked & portions of the regular White Dog he sells by itself). He worries it's over the top - I, on the other hand, thought it was dynamite. Sure, the faint of heart (and non-smokey whisky lovers) may be turned off... but with Islay malts as popular as they are - this is a keeper. In terms of "smoke" impact, it's not as strong as an Ardbeg or Laphroaig are, but relative to most bourbons (and even rye) it's "in your face" but it's not a novelty, with aging, this will be a remarkable whiskey.
TASTE: the smoke is dominant, especially compared to regular Black Dog. It's got all the same cereal notes, but very much toasted corn (corn nuts?), maybe some too-sweet tea influences, and a solid earthy nose and taste. A tad salty, too. I actually think it's very much like Kilchoman in terms of quality and vibe. A bit more farmy than I'd prefer but it is straight from the still and that's a quality found in all unaged whisk(e)y I've tried. It's not nearly as rough as some other artisan whiskey new make I've tried. Even at 45% ABV, there's very little harshness or burn.
Black Patch - This is Ultra Black Dog aged for a bit less than a year in a small (5 gallon? I can't remember...) barrel. It's a nice brown, and far less farmy on the nose. You can tell it's been small-barrel age, because the tannins and vanilla are out of proportion to it's "smoothness" - some harshness and overly grainy tastes that I associate with new make are still there, but the lots of the edges are smoothed with the wood. I almost think a finish in something like port or a really sweet aged bourbon barrel (Elmer T. Lee?) for a few months would knock this out of the park.
TASTE: Smoke and corn dominate. Sweet, with some tea-grounds aftertaste. Vanilla is strong, and the wood influence is very welcome compared to the new make versions. It's got some of the barnyard vibe of the new make, but very much dialed down. The barrel has mellowed this beast into something immensely sippable with nice white and black pepper spices, a good bit of cinnamon and even some green apples. Doesn't taste like Bourbon - but certainly not Scotch either because the corn aspect dominates. It's a corn whiskey that has suffused the cloying sweetness with smokey flavor and added some nice spice via the time in the barrel.
Again, Kilchoman very much comes to mind in terms of quality and flavor for all three of these bottlings - although I can't stress enough it's NOT peat that is up front, it's smoked corn - you can tell it's corn and that it's tobacco smoke (reminds me of my grandad's pipe).
Honestly, I've never had anything like any of these. They are all consumable as white dog (and lightly aged), and I can only imagine what a few years in the Kentucky weather would do for them in full size barrels.
Paul - you've made some magic in Christian county, and I will be happy to follow along with your efforts. Thanks for sharing what you are doing, and keep up the excellent work.
FWIW: I'll be putting them in small 2 liter barrels and aging them in the Texas sun during the day, and then back inside at night to get some temp. differences. I may use a Tequila finished barrel, or possibly a Rye finished barrel just to help add some "spice" that >to me< is missing. There's no (or very little) Rye in his Corn mashbill... so I may give that a whirl.