Updated June 21, 2016
By Richard Thomas
The “Four Kings” of craft whiskey—Mississippi River Distilling, FEW Spirits, Journeyman Distillery and Corsair Distilling—have done it again, releasing a new collaboration whiskey. Once again, three of the best known whiskey-making micro-distilleries in the Mid-West plus one from the South have contributed equal portions of whiskey to create a new blend. Following their previous bourbon and rye expressions, this third outing is an American malt.
In comparison to past Four Kings releases, which were 80 proof, this malt whiskey installment is 101.4 proof (50.7% ABV). In keeping with being an American malt, the liquid has a golden coloring.
The nose certainly takes the concept of the American malt and turns sharply towards western Scotland. The scent carries plenty of oily creosote, with currents of freshly polished leather and dry pine needles. On the palate, the liquid’s feel sits on the dry side, with flavors of slightly burnt toast and roasted nuts, with just a dash of pepper. It’s also just a little astringent. The finish unfolds off that peppery note, lingering warm and long.
I found this is one whiskey that absolutely benefits from a splash of water, since that minimizes the astringency and turns the pepper into cinnamon. The change was so marked, in fact, that I must wonder if bottling at 101.4 proof was the right thing to do. From the point of view of creating an easy drinking whiskey, something a little lower might have worked better.
Another difference between Four Kings Malt and its predecessors is the price tag. The bourbon and rye were around $50, but this one is listed at $69.99 at Binny’s.