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MB Roland X-Barrel Experimental Series: Black Dog Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

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Since I owe my love of whiskey to these guys, I thought it only appropriate that my first review is of one of their products. One of the things I like about Paul (@MBRDISTILLERY on twitter) is that he is honest. He's not going to give you some bullshit story about how wonderful an experimental product is. In fact when he poured me a tasting of this at the distillery's tasting room. He warned me it wasn't his favorite. But he got a look on his face as he tried it with us that said he was maybe rethinking that statement. And then he told me that a little time oxidizing in an open bottle had done it some good. This is why I've put off reviewing this (yes, I have plenty of notes even if I haven't shared them with anyone yet). I tried it right away and it wasn't very good. I've left it on the shelf only taking a little here and there to see if it has improved. It's been 6 months or so and I'd say it's as ready to drink as it will be. 

So here's how Paul explained this product to me. He lives in tobacco country so he took some of the corn he was going to turn into distillate and put it in a tobacco barn to fire it along with the tobacco. (He sold the resulting new make as Black Dog Corn Whiskey.) And, boy, the smoke comes along to the party. If you drink it neat, it's a bit like licking an ashtray on the finish. That's why I don't drink it neat. I like to use a splash of it in an Old Fashioned.

Alright so I'd experienced this Black Dog as new make, I'd found a use for it and I'd liked it in that one use. So, when I got the opportunity to try an aged version, I was stoked. Not because I particularly liked the non-aged version, but because it was new and completely interesting. And it is interesting. But only for folks who are really interested in something different.

Nose: a smokey honey BBQ sauce

Taste: Chipotle, even more bbq sauce. The sweet and zesty kind, not the vinegar kind

Finish: Wood smoked honey with just a hint of sea air. I have a feeling I'll be burping this one up later.

Notes: This product is all about smoke. Not very balanced, just sweet and smokey. I'd like to try this with a burger to see how it holds up. I have a feeling it would complement it very well.

Rating: I like this just because it is so different, but for general audiences:

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 meh.