I’d like to thank Gregory + Vine for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. All notes and thoughts are my own.
I came to a realization over the course of the last month. In this country, blended whiskey has a bad rep. And for good reason. Most of it is crap. Two things crystalized it for me. The first is that I’ve been getting a lot of comments on an old post that reviewed Kentucky Gentleman. In case you were blissfully unaware, Kentucky Gentleman is a blend of 51% bourbon and 49% Grain Neutral Spirits. Yet, it is labeled as “Kentucky Gentleman Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.” Sadly some of the commenters didn’t bother reading the next line on the label which describes the components of the blend. Let’s just say they were unhappy with their purchase. On the other hand, I also had people saying I was a snob because I didn’t like it so…yeah.
But the other thing that crystalized the bad reputation that blended whiskeys get was the sample I received of Eight & Sand, a Blended Bourbon Whiskey from the folks at MGP in Indiana. MGP makes damn fine whiskey. Yet, I saw ”blended” on the label and even though the label explicitly said “No GNS or coloring added,” I still felt a moment’s hesitation when I poured my first glass.
Eight & Sand is a Blended Bourbon Whiskey which, according to labeling regulations, means that it is at least 51% Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The other 49% can be almost any other spirit, but is usually GNS. So yeah, it was that other up to 49% that worried me. They must have been expecting questions like this though because when I asked I was very quickly assured that the non-bourbon portion was composed of rye whiskey, corn whiskey and light whiskey (in case you are curious, light whiskey is whiskey that has been distilled to higher than traditional whiskey’s 160 proof limit but lower than the 190 proof limit which would render it neutral grain spirits. It is then aged in used or uncharred new containers). So this is an all whiskey blend.
The Eight & Sand blend creation actually reminds me a lot of the way many Canadian Whiskies are created. Canadian Whiskies often start with a delicate “base whisky” which is similar to US Light Whiskey. To that they blend in “flavoring whiskeys” made from other types of grain: rye, malt, bourbon-style corn whisky, etc. (but never GNS). Our Neighbors to the North rely on (and acknowledge) their blenders to make a particular whisky what it is. They form an idea or feeling they want to capture or evoke and blend the whisky to that. Which is why I say that Eight & Sand reminds me of a Canadian Whisky in some ways. Sure, in Eight & Sand’s case, the base whiskey is bourbon. But they also set out with the idea to showcase their four primary whiskeys (Bourbon, corn, rye, and light) and then blended a whiskey that can show off what can be done with them.
Eight & Sand Blended Bourbon Whiskey
Purchase Info: I was graciously provided a 750 mL sample from Gregory+Vine for review purposes. Suggested retail price is $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle.
Details: 44% ABV. Blended Bourbon. No GNS or coloring added. A blend of Bourbon, Rye, Corn and Light whiskeys.
Nose: Mint, cinnamon and caramel.
Mouth: Bubblegum, mint, and cinnamon spice.
Finish: Warm and of medium length. Lingering cinnamon, clove, bubblegum and mint.
Thoughts: If you had handed this to me with no explanation as to what it was, I would have said it was a pretty tasty bourbon. Knowing that this is a blend, it really shows of the MGP blender’s skill. I mentioned above that the process to create this was similar to the process used in Canadian Whisky. The reason I thought of that is that during our tasting, this reminded me a lot of a really good Canadian Whiskey. I’m thinking something from Wiser’s.
In fact, it shows my biases that when I saw the suggested retail price was roughly $30, I baulked a little. It seemed odd to charge that much for a Blended Bourbon. Yet if someone had handed me this same whiskey and told me it was Canadian, I would have thought the $30 price tag was ludicrously low. I would have bought three or four bottles before they '“wised up.” I guess what I am saying is that you should probably give this one a shot. It is quite good and well worth the asking price.
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