...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, November 18, 2016

WTF Is This? Corti Brothers Exquisite Whiskey

Yeah, I know Friday is bourbon and rye day, but WTF is this "Exquisite" stuff? It's neither fish nor fowl, Shinola nor santorum. Okay it technically started out as bourbon, but the result is. The result is. I'll come back to the result in a moment...

The Players

The Corti Brothers have a history of releasing exclusive single malt whiskies, stretching back several decades. Whiskyfun has a bunch of reviews of old Corti stuff we'll never be able to try, so feel free to porn out to that. Though they bottled this Exquisite Thing under their own label in 2014, Corti Bros neither distilled it nor matured it...

In 2013, Amador—a Sierra foothills distillery founded in 2012—obtained 13 barrels of Kentucky bourbon and finished for eight months it in casks that held batches of a sweet wine called Mission del Sol for 40 years. So Amador neither distilled the whiskey nor produced the wine...

Mission del Sol was made at Harbor Winery in Sacramento, from the Mission grape. Their last batch of Mission del Sol was produced in 1986 and bottled in 2014. They no longer make the sweet wine.

And finally, the bourbon was distilled by a mystery Kentucky distiller from a 70/25/5 mashbill in 2006. In 2013 they sold 13 of the barrels to Amador Distillery who finished the stuff in wine casks from Harbor Winery and then bottled the stuff under Corti Brothers' label. And we're back at the beginning again.

The Review

Thank you to Florin for this nice big sample. He and I also drank some of this together (what seems like) a million years ago. For the long and winding data on this whisky see the section above.

Its color is a very red brown. The nose starts with bubblegum, raspberry jam and corn syrup. Cherry-flavored children's medicine, eucalyptus and a hint of vanilla. Lots of oak: sawdust and bark. The palate is almost all Port, for a while. Then black grapes and Schweppes raspberry ginger ale (circa 1980s). Not much whiskey in this whiskey. Maybe some rye spice. Dark cherries and tart blackberries. A liqueur's sweetness. It finishes like high strength Port. Very sweet. Cheap maraschino cherries. Maybe some jammy PX.

This is a Port + Chambord barrel-aged liqueur. Is that a good thing? That depends on one's preferences. This stuff is beloved by Sku, be-not-loved by The Whiskey Jug, generates contrasting responses from LAWS, and somehow garners a positive review from Serge who always HATES this level of imbalanced wine bomb. I think this stuff would be great poured over rich vanilla ice cream, or matched with bitter dark chocolate. Drinking it straight didn't gross me out because I like port and berry candy. It's not terrible; in fact, I liked it more than the first two batches of Bruichladdich Black Art. But I've sipped this whisky on three occasions now and I am happy to say that's all the Exquisite Whiskey I need. I'll have some crap rye now, thanks.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $30 (375mL), $50 (750mL)
Rating - 79


  1. I was so glad I could find a good house for this bottle - Sku, its one and only dedicated fan! I certainly couldn't drink it, and friends weren't much help either, as seen above. Occasionally it was tolerable, but most of the time I the artificial flavor-like finish and the sweetness put me out. (I am not trying to say they added flavoring, just that the taste was weird.) So for all my love of port, zinfandel, and bourbon, when taken separately, this did not work for me at all.

    My notes:
    "Weird flavor and especially finish, like an overaged American sweet wine. Does not blend well at all with the bourbon. What was SKU thinking? One year later: the sweet finish seems slightly more integrated, and it reminds of a Spanish brandy. With much charity it could pass for a port-finished bourbon, like Big Bottom. It all falls apart in the finish, still. ~75pts"

    1. When I was writing the review I could remember what our reactions were to it when you had poured it for me. I don't know what Serge was thinking. This is exactly the kind of whiskey he gives 60 point scores to. Still, I'm sticking with my it-would-be-good-on-ice-cream political stance.