The unusual use of millet as the secondary grain for this bourbon creates an utterly unexpected flavor profile, closer to the familiar notes of rye. It works well, but the blind drinker may be taken unawares. Freshness dominates the nose, with balsam bough, spruce branches, mint toothpaste, and Pine-Sol, and it pervades the palate too, which is green and peppy with arugula, spearmint, pine, black pepper, and lemon. The finish shows bitter oak but remains persistently piney and fresh.
Certified organic, “aged under four years.” Oak is forward on the nose—young and fresh-sawn—with sweet spicy hard candies: cinnamon and teaberry. Juicy in the mouth: sweet, springing with that spice-fruit bounce off an oak board. Rye oil hides in the back, then slides forward with the oak to take over the finish. Dynamic. I haven't been a big Koval fan, but we're definitely on the right path here.
Koval Single Barrel Oat American Whiskey (No. 5G8X2W), 40%
American Whiskey | $45
Piney and herbaceous on the nose, with Popsicle stick, lemongrass, fresh oregano, Lemon Pledge, and a hint of vanilla. Light-bodied and silky in texture, it has plenty of vanilla and toasted wood sweetness, along with hints of herbs. The finish is short and a bit hot, with simple oak flavors.
Oat, malt, rye, and wheat are the four organic grains (like you, I was instantly curious); nice amber color. Hot and sweet (with a hint of dill) on the nose, rafting in on a thick oak plank. Sweet grain, cut wood, and lingering heat make this good, but I'm looking for more complexity. There's no clear handle to this one, no “I'm bourbon,” or “I'm malt,” which is intriguing, but it's just...good, not inspiring. Odd complaint, but there you are.
Certified organic, distilled from 100% rye. First whiff: like that smell when you tear apart anti-theft plastic packaging. Swirl and warm to get unseeded rye bread, old books, bitter grass. Palate is quite right: sweet grain and a bit of mint balanced by bitter rye oils and wood, slipping into a sweet but wood-framed finish. Pleasantly youthful whiskey in the mouth; nose is sharp still.
Koval Four Grain Single Barrel American Whiskey (No. W06P45), 47%
American Whiskey | $45
Distilled from a mashbill of oats, malted barley, rye, and wheat, then aged in heavily charred new oak barrels from Minnesota. The grains are sourced from a Midwestern organic farmer collective. The nose is herbaceous, offering sarsaparilla, vanilla, licorice, and menthol. A somewhat jagged palate has notes of pine, ginger root, vanilla, sweet oak, heat, and pepper. The finish reprises the flavors of the palate—notably menthol, pine, oak, ginger, and vanilla.
Smelling the rye from a foot away after pouring. Exceptionally clean aroma of grain; the oily/spicy rye notes come through clearly. Quite smooth. Not a lot of flavors: very focused on the rye itself, with grain and just a touch of mint. A long finish with sweet grain that slowly turns to mint in the end.
Provocative: spelt’s an interesting aroma. Grainy and a bit earthy, with hints of golden delicious apple all combining in the nose. There’s a fast, high flow of creaminess that spreads quickly and disappears, leaving a slightly fruity, grainy aftertaste. Interesting sensations, and again, quite clean.
A lively light fruitiness (white grapes, green plum) in the nose. Quite grainy, but with an interesting hint of vanilla and a slight saltiness. Finish is a bit astringent, unlike the other Koval spirits. I’m finding these an interesting exercise in distillation, and educational.
So that’s what wheat smells like: not much. The aromas here seem to be mostly yeast-derived, with a faint ripe fruitiness (undefined: peach, apple?) and alcohol heat, and a touch of wheat-origin sweet grass. Wheat’s in the mouth, like chewing fresh grain with some water and alcohol. It’s all there, and the finish is sweet, and it’s clean, but…that’s about all. White bread whiskey.
Very similar to the Midwest Wheat in aroma, with a slight additional tanginess…but that could be from sensory deprivation. Drier in the mouth, with a slight medicinal character to it that increases as the finish goes on; like a high school chemistry lab storeroom, or a bottle of fresh aspirin.