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Cosair Distillery – Triple Smoke: a taste test between batches 214 and 244

July 21, 2018

I discovered Triple Smoke a couple of years ago when our family visited the Corsair Distillery in Nashville TN. Within our family, we label this kind of spirit “brown juice” – a catch-all for whiskeys of any kind. My preference in brown juice is Bourbon and Islay Scotch – as different as sweet and sour. Triple Smoke merges my preferences into a single masterpiece.

I rarely mix quality whiskey in a cocktail. I prefer it neat or over a substantial rock of ice. For this taste test, I am drinking the whiskeys neat. My gimmick for this taste test is I have a bottle of Triple Smoke with about a shot left. For small batch spirits I like to keep that last shot until I have replacement bottle. Then I can compare batches. Tonight I am comparing batch 215 with batch 244.

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I am accompanying the whiskeys with John Coltrane’s Both Directions At Once The Lost Album.

When I first tasted Triple Smoke at the Distillery a few years ago, I remarked to the bartender that it reminded me of Scotch, and Islay in particular. He smiled and said that was pretty much the point of this spirit. From that point on I have described Triple Smoke as an American Islay to anyone who would listen.

Per Corsair:

The whiskey that put us on the map. We use three smoked malts (cherrywood, beechwood, and peat) to craft this deep and complex whiskey. Smoke and notes of cherry pervade the palate, finished by a slight brininess of mossy peat. Pot distilled then barreled in new charred oak, Triple Smoke has the sweetness of an American whiskey with a single malt’s rich smoke.

The first thing I notice between batch 215 and 244 is the color – batch 215 is paler.

Batch 215 is on the left and 244 is on the right.

Batch 215 and 244 have similar odors, but 215 is much stronger.

Batch 244 has a noticeably thicker viscosity.

Most importantly the taste:

  • Both taste great
  • Both mix the sweetness of Bourbon with the peaty smoke of Scotch.
  • 215 is milder and sweeter than 244.
  • 244 is more complex: a thicker viscosity, smokier, a bit more heat, a subtler sweetness and a more lasting after taste.

I can’t say that I prefer one vs. the other. They are clearly similar enough to go by the same name. I appreciate that they are not exactly the same.

If you like Bourbon and you like Scotch you will likely enjoy this clever mashup. The two flavors mix remarkably well together. If you lean toward Bourbon vs. Scotch or vice versa, this may open your palate towards your least preferred brown juice. Triple Smoke is more of a Bourbon than a Scotch. If there is any doubt about that, I finished my tasting session with a wee dram of Ardbeg 10 (a true Islay) and the Triple Smoke is clearly a Bourbon. However, it is the most unusual Bourbon I have ever tasted and one that has earned a regular place in my home bar.

Corsair has several other spirits and I have liked all that I have tasted. None of their spirits are conventional. They appear to have good distribution in the USA. A bottle of Triple Smoke is about $45.  A special shout out to Top Ten Liquor in St. Louis Park – my regular liquor store – they always have a great selection and helpful staff.

PS – Coltrane mixes well with Triple Smoke. Both are complex, but accessible.

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