What do you mean you haven't heard of KO Distilling yet? This distillery out of Manassas, Virginia boasts the statement that they are Virginia grown, Virginia made, and grain to glass. I know everyone wants to use great buzz words in their marketing, but this one fits the bill.
I've been trying to celebrate and explore many of the craft distilleries from around the country lately, especially the ones that are making great whiskey. After getting tasted on the entire line from KO, I knew I had to do a write up on at least one as time has allowed. One tidbit from their website says:
KO is proud to be one of more than 1200 craft distilleries in the US and one of only 50 in Virginia. The distillery attracts visitors seeking locally crafted spirits.
Most folks are here to read about if they whiskey tastes any good, so I am going to opt to skip over the distillery history on this one, and we'll jump right into a review. I'd like to thank Luke Farley from KO Distillery for giving me this bottle so that I can give it an honest review with no strings attached.
Company on Label: KO Distilling
Whiskey Type: Straight Rye Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 100% Rye
Age: 4 years
Further identification: Single Barrel # 19-0279, bottle #26 selected by the Prestige Ledroit Distributing Company
Nose: Whew - funky maple syrup jumps out the glass with emphasis. It's bold, dark and sweet before transitioning into caramel and floral tones. This is wonderfully expressive right from the get-go. Brown sugar, tobacco and white lily perfumery aromas put on a wonderfully impressive show. It's got vintage funk and an oily nose-feel. What more could you ask for? Nosing deeper I find sweet coffee bean, mace and vanilla extract. A swirl of the glass unleashes a silky wave of maple cinnamon pudding. Hints of well-crafted bread show off a quality mash that has been aged out of widespread recognition by what feels like good cooperage. Subtle hints of barbecue begin to trail off as I yearn for a sip. Let's go!
My goodness coming back to the nose is such a treat. Honeysuckle has amplified drastically, but the same wonderful funk is still there. I get a sweet lemon Haribo gummy bear note that I'm loving & certainly haven't found in any other whiskey before. I could leave my nose in this glass all day. The overall highlight is an aroma of tobacco, anise, caramel, toffee and horse barn. It reminds me of that first whiff of a nice cigar out of the humidor. The empty glass smells of cassis, orange blossom and split stone. Exceptionally fun to explore from start to finish.
Palate: My first sip shows off a cacophony of lemon pudding, Earl Gray tea and honey fondant. There's no heat through the mouth or chest as this as I chew through a honey-ladened granola bar. Another sip and swish reveals a wonderful fruit bowl filled with blueberry, black cherry, chia seeds, and fresh cut strawberries. Sipping lower in the glass reveals slightly sugary tones with a slowly building backbone of creamy fruit. What it lacks in overall depth it makes up for in quality with exquisite effervescence. For a spirit and grain well known for delivering spice, this just sings in lemon zest, raisin and bready vibrato. My last sip is such a treat. It delivers maraschino cherry, plum, raisin, and a long, shimmering finish of steeped bergamot. The palate didn't offer as much nuance and variation as the nose did, but I am thoroughly satisfied with this glass through and through.
TL;DR: Wonderful rye whiskey that drinks exceptionally delicate and sweet
This is great whiskey. If you haven't heard of this distillery yet, you're in for a treat. Their rye really sings. I've had plenty of tastes of this bottle to know it is absolutely the real deal. I'd compare it readily to many well-aged Kentucky rye stocks such as Michter's 10 year rye, and it absolutely holds up. It did really well in a blind flight as well. I can't wait to see what this distillery does in the future as their whiskey continues to get older. As always I welcome any feedback in the comments. Cheers!