By Father John Rayls
I have before me a full, 750 ml bottle of Collaboration Whiskey (2016), Batch #1, 84 Proof, and that it is a full bottle is a bit of surprise in that it is a very limited release of only 642 bottles. It is a combination of bottles of Black Button Four Grain Bourbon and O’Begley’s Irish style single malt, which have been blended and then married in ex-bourbon casks.
Black Button Distilling is know for its grain to glass distilling out of Rochester, NY, while O’Begley Distillery is known for its Irish style whiskey produced from a single pot copper still out of Pittsford, NY. Both organizations use locally grown grain, and take great pride in their craft. This is only the second collaboration project to arise in the American craft whiskey scene, after the Four Kings series launched by Corsair Artisan, Few Spirits, Journeyman and Mississippi River Distilling.
Collaboration Whiskey has a coppery color in the bottle, but appears a little thinner and lighter in color in the glass. There, the yellow hues become more pronounced particularly when viewing the whiskey from the top down. Legs are long and easily observed. The nose is subtle with the primary aroma being cereal in nature. There is some very faint oak somewhere deep underneath. The vapor yields no alcohol burn in the nose, even after inhaling deeply.
There is some creaminess on first sip as the whiskey lightly coats the tongue. A honey-on-four-grain bread flavor is next on the palate. It’s not as sweet as honey, but it certainly reminds you of the experience. In addition, a nuttiness balances the flavors before you are again reminded that this is a grain driven flavor. Some malt flavor sneaks its way into the mix as well.
It’s a very smooth and easy drinking experience with some oak lingering out back. The deceiving medium-to-long finish was a small surprise. Initially, it seems to be a very short finish. However, it starts up again, just after its initially dying out. It’s a nice surprise, especially if you aren’t rushing the experience. No one should be surprised that it’s mostly cereal and malt driven.
You can find bottles of Collaboration Whiskey at both distilleries and at select retail outlets. Suggested retail will be just under $50.00, but may be difficult to find due to the very limited production. However, you should be able to find it at the home distilleries if you are in Western New York.