One thing you can say about Nashville’s Corsair Distillery: you’ll never get the expected. That’s true for their widely available flagship releases, like the peat-, cherrywood- and beechwood-fired Triple Smoke, or the clever-if-gimmicky Quinoa Whiskey. It’s also true for their experimental and seasonal releases, several of which I had the chance to taste last month at their weeks-old facility in Music City.
Among them: a limited-run bourbon simply called “Nashville,” which gets a hit of cherry-smoked barley in the mash bill; Buck Yeah, which has 1/3 buckwheat in the mash bill; and Centennial, a whiskey hopped via a vapor basket, the same as gin distillers use to infuse their aromatics.
But the standout of the bunch was Corsair Oatrage, a pot distilled oat/barley hybrid. Here, we get a mash bill of 385lbs malted oats, 200lbs six-row malt and 165lbs coffee malt (they actually printed this on the label, a habit I wish every distillery would get into). If this sounds like the way to make an oatmeal porter, well, that’s just about right. Their goal was basically to make such a beer, minus the hops and plus some distiller’s yeast, and run it through the pot still.
The results are spectacular. On the nose, you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for an unpeated scotch or an Irish whiskey, though on second whiff, you’ll likely pick up a slight aroma of breakfast porridge. In the mouth, it hits you with 100 proof worth of thick, viscous hazelnut flavors, before moving onto some rye character in the mid-palate. Then there’s that lingering, porter-esque finish: nothing but subtle coffee and chocolate.
You’ll ponder it forever on its own, but I can’t wait to try Oatrage in a Boulavardier, or maybe a Manhattan doused with chocolate bitters.
— 50% ABV
CE Rating: ★★★★