Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Wakey Whiskey: Rogue Spirits Dead Guy Whiskey

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  Today is a big day around Baton Rouge (if the weather doesn't screw us over) with a few of my favorite festivals taking place.  Kicking off downtown today (and continuing tomorrow) is the Baton Rouge Blues Festival, and over at LSU's Rural Life Museum you can find the Zapp's International Beer Festival.  I've been attending both events pretty regularly over the years, and it's a little (okay, a lot) disappointing that both are starting at roughly the same time, but the good news is that there is plenty of time this weekend to do both if you choose!  That's certainly my plan.  

With a beer festival on my minds, I figured it would be the perfect time to try out a whiskey created by a company primarily known as a brewery, the Rogue Spirits Dead Guy Whiskey. I'm sure most of you out there have heard of Rogue Ales, an Oregon-based brewery that has been around for years with beers like the Dead Guy Ale and Hazelnut Brown.  Well, they also have their very own distillery in Newport, Oregon where they create three different whiskeys and two types of gin.  

Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey
The Dead Guy Whiskey is made from the same malted barley combination that comprised the malt bill on their Dead Guy Ale, primarily 2-Row with some Munich, Crystal 15, and a couple of locally grown malts as well.  This might seem like a departure from American whiskeys which use primarily corn but also wheat and rye, but distilling from a mash of malted barley is extremely common in Scotland and Ireland.  Malted barley is used almost exclusively in the production of both Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, so with that in mind, I expected some similarities with those spirits in this offering from Rogue.  The Dead Guy Whiskey is then aged in oak barrels for at least two years in barrels exposed to the ocean.  Their barrel aging facility in Newport is exposed to the saltwater in a similar manner to the Lagavulin aging warehouse in Islay, Scotland.  

I'll be honest before getting into the review... I'm not a huge fan of Rogue beers, and I've tried a rum from them in the past that I thought was outright awful, so my expectation going into this one were pretty low.  That said, I'm always willing to give a beverage a chance, and the idea behind this one had a lot of promise, so I poured pretty heavy anyway.  The color is excellent, which was apparent before the pour, a deep amber that appears more rich than the two years of aging... perhaps this was a second use barrel or smaller barrel?  The aroma is much more like a lighter Scotch to me, with a bit of honey, some citrus, some floral notes, and a very pleasant alcohol character.  The taste is more of the honey note, with some vanilla oak character from the barrel aging, with maybe a hint of saltiness, but I certainly don't get the "ocean aging" on this one like I do in a bottle of Lagavulin or Jefferson's Ocean.  I'd bet that a few more years could really change this one for the better with the ocean aging they are going for.  It's really smooth though, very easy to drink with some extremely pleasant Scotch notes that remind me of a good Speyside single malt.  

I was seriously impressed with this whiskey, complex refreshing flavors that kept my attention throughout the pour.  This is definitely worth a purchase if you see it out in the wild! 

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