Review: Corsair Dark Rye, Triple Smoke, and American Gin (2020)
At one point, Nashville-based Corsair had roughly 20 expressions of whiskey, gin, moonshine, and even absinthe on the market. To say that Corsair’s attentions were scattered might be a bit of an understatement.
That changed this year when Corsair did a full-scale reboot, bringing their core product lineup down to just four: Two whiskeys, and two gins. (Additional limited editions will come and go seasonally, but only a handful at a time.) Today we take a fresh look at the new Corsair lineup — the only exception being the Barreled Gin, which we didn’t receive. Let’s dig in.
Corsair Dark Rye – Made from an unusual, corn-free mash of 61% malted rye, 4% malted chocolate rye, and 35% malted barley. Formally bottled as Ryemageddon, and at 92 proof. Aged 8 months (as handwritten on the batch label). The nose is evocative and burly, a combination of matchsticks, pan-toasted grains, and — of course — a dark cereal character that hits the nose with a big punch of smoke. While the aroma is clearly youthful, the palate offers a surprising sense of maturity. More toasty — but not funky — grains lead the charge, followed by a significant note of caramel and a clear chocolate note. A punchy barrel char note gives the finish a kick, but a rush of baking spice, butterscotch, and a reprise of chocolate tempers it nicely and balances out the back end. This may be a (very) young spirit, but it’s got a surprising level of gravitas that makes it delightfully approachable. 85 proof. Reviewed: Batch #6. A- / $30
Corsair Triple Smoke (2020) – This is Corsair’s flagship and best-seller, a whiskey made from 100% malted barley, smoke-dried using three different types of fuel: cherrywood from Wisconsin, beechwood from Germany, and peat from Scotland. Also aged 8 months. The nose is unusual, not overwhelmingly smoky — quite fruity, actually — and generally much more mild than the Dark Rye. The palate feels a bit more straightforward. The smoke is mildly peaty — imagine the gentlest Islay whisky you’ve ever had — with an echo of applewood-smoked bacon, dried flowers, and a touch of cloves. Surprisingly quiet on the finish. 80 proof. Reviewed: Batch #320. B+ / $48 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Corsair American Gin – A pot-distilled gin infused with juniper, cucumber peel, orange peel, cardamom, hyssop, licorice root, lemon peel, chamomile, coriander, angelica, and orris root. There’s a ringer in that list, and it’s cucumber: The vegetable is immediately noticeable as you take the first whiff: Distinctly peel and not the meat of the cucumber, heavily herbal, earthy, and, indeed, dark green in tone. Notes of juniper and an odd hint of sweet corn are also evident here, but the overall nose is one of a burlap sack. The palate doesn’t much depart, focusing on the vegetal elements and a certain floral note, which comes increasingly like dried flowers and lavender, as the gin develops in the glass. On the finish, notes of black pepper, sesame, and a fair bit of that licorice character come into focus giving the gin an even more intense savory note. Not for me. 88 proof. Reviewed: Batch #258. C+ / $30 / [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]