Judging whiskey is a difficult thing to do. So I’m going to leave that to the professionals. But writing about whiskey is great fun, as is reviewing a good whiskey now and then. For some time now I’ve been keeping an eye on the Montana distillery scene. There are numerous vodka makers out there, and I’m hearing rumors of gin and Absynthe, but I’ve been waiting to try a good Montana whiskey. I figured it would be a while since the aging process to produce a decent whiskey takes a while. I was pleasently surprised to find RoughStock Montana Whiskey from RoughStock Distillery in Bozeman on the shelves at Grizzly Liquor recently, so I picked up a bottle for sampling purposes.
This particular bottle is from batch No. 2 and has been aged in barrels for six months. Normally I’d go through and describe the whiskey, but I’m going to follow the general tasting guidelines this time, and I’ll write a little piece at the end to tie it all up.
Bottle: RoughStock Montana Whiskey comes in a great little clear bottle with a stiff cork cap. The label is informative and hand numbered.
Appearance: The whiskey pours a pale straw with barely discernible legs as you swirl it around the glass.
Nose: Served neat, the nose is strong alcohol, wood, resin and new leather. After warming in the glass and adding a few drops of water, the nose is clean vanilla, toasted wood and a tannic, almost Rooibos red tea smell.
Taste: Served neat, the whiskey is initially hot with some astringency on the tongue. As the whiskey sits on the tongue, you pick up some sweet characteristics and a woody spice. After adding a few drops of water, the taste on the tongue includes a hint of citrus and a warm vanilla taste with some nutiness.
Finish: For a younger whiskey, RoughStock is exceptionally smooth. Initially, the heat gives the impression of a harsher taste, though once in the mouth, the heat mellows out and provides some interesting tastes along with the developed flavors. This whiskey finishes fairly dry and clean with little or no astringency.
I’ve had a lot of young whiskey this year, but the common denominator between them was a general greenness on the taste. RoughStock Montana Whiskey was different. Where the other whiskeys were astringent with lots of heat, RoughStock was initially hot with some spice but smooth on the swallow. I detected none of the greenness that I usually encounter in a young whiskey. The color was interesting in that the pale straw almost gave the impression of a bit of cloudiness, though holding it up to a pure light source, I could detect no cloudiness. We sampled this whiskey out of Riedel Scotch-tasting glasses, which provided a nice bright nose in spite of the initial heat. For a cocktail mix, we tried a Whiskey Sour. The bright and hot whiskey stood up well to the fresh-squeezed lemon, even offering up a little more of what I thought were some citrus like notes on the whiskey.
Priced at $52, I felt like this whiskey is a good bet. It’s boutique, and it’s only going to get better from here. Congratulations to the folks over at RoughStock for doing honor to the state by distilling such a great whiskey as the first one in the state since prohibition. I picked up this bottle at Grizzly Liquor.