...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Calumet Farm bourbon

Sometimes I review a whisky because it fits in with a weekly theme. And sometimes I review a whiskey because its bottle takes up too much damn room in my storage box.

Western Spirits appears to have invested in a slinky, curvy vessel for their Calumet Farm bourbon, even though the thing is twice as wide as the average bottle. One wonders how much they invested in the NDP NAS non-straight whiskey itself. A 750mL of Calumet sells for $50 in many states. How much of that goes towards recouping the expense of the glass?

Non Distiller Producer: Western Spirits
Brand: Calumet Farm
Distiller: ???
Type: Bourbon
Region: Bowling Green, Kentucky
Maturation: New American oak
Age: ???
Mashbill: ???, mystery meat indeed
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

Its color is very pale for a bourbon, sort of a light gold Scotch tone. The nose leads with flowers, almond paste, paint and cardboard. Quite a mix there. Loads of barrel char. Snuffed cheap cigar butt on the morning after. Then hints of vanilla and chlorine. The palate is mildly sweet. Hold it. Never mind. REALLY sweet. Honey and hint of citrus. Slightly nutty, slightly chemically. It finishes tooth-rottingly sweet. Honey butter and orange candy. Sour aftertaste.

Plenty sweet. A bit of caramel candy shows up. Barrel char. Cigarettes. The finish ditches its sourness.

I was expecting the worst after reading Sku's review and its comments. But the bourbon is not horrible. It does feel watered down, and the nose is cockeyed. Yet, it's drinkable. And though it is waaaaaaaay too sweet for my mouth, other drinkers may not feel the same.

Its lack of "straight" designation has me thinking one or two things are going on. There could be very young whiskey in the mix or there's a tiny bit of sweetener or flavoring that has been added. Or both.
(UPDATE: As Florin noted in the comments, bourbon can't technically have any flavoring additives, though rye can. Though, as morlock added, if the industry is self-policing it becomes easy to suspect some tinkering.)

Calumet Farm would be a good-enough bourbon in the $15-$20 range, but it's not in the $15-$20 range.

Availability - Most US specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - US: $38-$55, averaging close to $50; Overseas: $100+ (yup)
Rating - 75


  1. Awesome puzzle, we have it too. You must have the giant version - or that bottle is a mini.
    By law, even non-straight bourbon cannot have additives (as opposed to rye, for example). It's not directly in the CFR, but rather in their interpretation by the agency, having to do with established practice. However, I've had instances where I strongly suspected some producer bent the rules on that one.

    1. 'Twas a mini, else that would be a really big puzzle. I'll update the post in a sec. Curious to see that bourbon and rye have different standards in this instance.

  2. Always amusing to hear the echo chamber quacking on "bent rules" and bourbon additives. http://chuckcowdery.blogspot.com/2015/02/no-additives-in-bourbon-no-way-no-how.html It's a "self-policing" industry. If the taxes get paid on the alcohol, who do you think is checking ? A poultry inspector or something akin thereunto ? It's sugared to shit, and so is all the current standard "expression" released by the big seven producers.

    1. We've seen that the TTB doesn't even know what should be on the label, rather consistently. And none of the industry's self-policing has helped out with that. With so much competition in this (for now) successful market, I wouldn't doubt more producers/blenders will ignore the rules to fluff up their products.

    2. "It's sugared to shit"? That's the first time I saw such a bold statement about bourbon, where it's explicitly prohibited. Big if true! Presence of sugar can be tested pretty easily by someone with a hydrometer. (I've dabbled in that myself, with infamous results.) I doubt that the industry would expose itself like this, for no good reason. But maybe you have some data on this morlock.