By Richard Thomas
Upon receiving an invitation to go to Le Claire, Iowa for the bottling of this year’s Four Kings Collaboration Whiskey, I had to resist joking that it was the 4×4 release, as this was the fourth time at bat for the “Four Kings” of Mississippi River Distilling, FEW Spirits, Corsair Artisan and Journeyman. Having seen them myself, I can report that the stock came from a mix of mid-sized and “tiny” small barrels.
I had wondered what these four leaders in the craft whiskey movement were going to do in the future after their third outing, since they had already covered Bourbon, Rye and Malt. Did a few of them have secret stocks of wheat whiskey? Was a Bottled in Bond in the works?
Instead, the choice this year was to go with a blended whiskey. As usual, each of the four contributors provided an equal portion, but each provided a different category of whiskey. Journeyman sent their Wheat whiskey, FEW their Rye, Corsair their smoked Malt, and Mississippi River their aged corn whiskey/Bourbon. The resulting blend, bottled only a week ago today, was bottled at 101.4 proof (50.7% ABV).
The liquid gave my glass a viscous-looking coating, leaving behind a heavy crown that was slow to drop any tears, and those it did drop were big and ran at a glacial pace. The coloring was on the light side of amber, more brown than red, but in a dulled way that didn’t darken its appearance.
What I found most interesting about this blend was how, when taken neat anyway (and keeping in mind the proof here is in tune with Wild Turkey 101, you can take it neat) that different aspects of the constituents arose at different times. The nose for example, had a certain malty butterscotch aspect, plus plenty of vanilla, a pinch of cookie spices, and a little green oak from the mix of smaller barrel stock.
The flavor was brought the spiciness more to the fore, and took it in a more peppery direction. The butterscotch was still there, now joined by a whiff of smoke. So was the vanilla, now hand in hand with a candy corn sweetness. Absent so far was a showing from Journeyman’s Wheat whiskey. The finish was dry and peppery, and only mildly warm.
It being a warm Spring day when I sat down to do a proper tasting and take my notes, I decided to try the Four Kings Blended with an ice cube. The water brought out the more floral quality of the Wheat whiskey, or else pushed the other aspects of the profile back far enough to allow it to stand out. The result was a much more balanced whiskey, so I recommend either a little ice or a splash of water.
Four Kings Blended Whiskey had a production run of about 500 bottles, not including what the four contributors themselves took home, and each bottle is priced at $69.99.