Local Choice Bourbon Review

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With the start of December we are officially well into my favorite season of all: bourbon season. Bourbon lovers continue to be spoilt for choice when it comes to trying new bourbons. Every time I go to the liquor store there is a new and exciting bottle to try, and those are just a smattering of the new bottles hitting the market very week. It is getting to be a real challenge trying to keep up with it all, but still I soldier on somehow. Recently Local Choice Spirits out of South Carolina were kind enough to send me their bourbon and their black cherry flavored bourbon to try for Queen City Drinks.

Local Choice Spirits is based out of Daniel Island, South Carolina and was founded in 2011 and operates under a “pour it forward” philosophy. In addition to striving to produce quality spirits they also donate $2 per bottle sold back to the local community where it is sold. Also, they do produce their whiskey, which is not always the case with a craft distillery. Without getting too much into the business behind craft whiskey, a micro-producer will have a choice between sourcing their whiskey from a larger producer and selling it as their own while getting started or else produce small batches right away and sell a younger whiskey. Making your own whiskey is both more difficult and more expensive than sourcing, and you have the constant pressure to get your product to the shelves quickly to make back that cost. Some micro-producers try to do with with smaller barrels or finding ways to agitate barrels for quicker aging. Local Choice apparently uses a trademarked system called TerrePURE® which uses sound waves to “rapidly transforms ordinary distilled spirits into mature tasting, incredibly smooth, ultra-premium spirits in a quick and efficient manner.” That is a pretty bold claim right there, so let’s see how the bourbon holds up.

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Local Choice Bourbon

The bourbon has a fresh and citrus nose, with little of the carmel sweetness that is often associated with bourbon. The initial taste has a subtle sweetness. Mostly I pick up corn, pine, and a hint of pepper. It is a very fresh taste but not quite enough flavor. It is a young bourbon but I will give it to them that it is very smooth for the age. The burn is short and flares in the nostrils. There is a bit of an after taste but it doesn’t linger. Over all it is far from the worst young, micro-produced bourbon I have had. And it is much better than Cleveland but that is a very low bar to clear. This tastes like it is a solid distillate that could be pretty decent if it ever gets a chance to age properly, so that means that there is a good chance that this TerrePure processes made a positive difference. There is no way that a bourbon lover would mistake this for a matured bourbon though. I added a splash of water and it helped bring out a bit more of the sweetness and actually made it a bit more complex. I tried it with ice as well but that stripped way too much of the taste away. Overall I can honestly say that I liked this bourbon more than I thought I would given their high-tech fast aging technique but I still think the bottom line comes back to that old saying about how you can’t rush Mother Nature.

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Local Choice Black Cherry Flavored Bourbon

The cherry is unmistakable in the nose but it doesn’t smell like it is blending quiet right with the whiskey smell. The first sip is actually very pleasant. This tastes like it has a gentle infusion of cherry rather than an artificial flavor that was added. Unfortunately after the first sip comes a sour aftertaste that lingers on the tongue most unpleasantly and this disqualifies it from sipping for me. Mixing it with some ginger beer helped immensely but I could still taste the aftertaste. Not sure if that was from my earlier sipping or if the ginger beer just failed to completely cover the taste. Very disappointing because I actually enjoy a good infused bourbon when it is done well.

Right now these spirits are only available in South and North Carolina but they are looking to expand into Kentucky soon so keep an eye out. I would love to learn more about this TerrePURE process and to try some of their vodka that they make with it. Based on the bourbon, I would guess that it would have an even more dramatic effect on an un-aged product and is probably better suited to vodkas and gins than to whiskey.

Chicken Cock Whiskey

It probably comes as no surprise that I’ve gotten to know the liquor store up the road from me, Brentwood Spirits, fairly well. Even though it is a small store, the staff are knowledgable and they have steered me toward some really nice choices in the past. So I was a little taken aback when I went in last week looking for something new to try and they recommended a flavored whiskey with a sophomoric name and a tin can. Flavored whiskeys are not something I typically recommend to whiskey lovers. So were they recommending it to me because they thought it was good, or because they were trying to unload some slow moving product? The price was only $19 a bottle, so I decided to give Chicken Cock flavored whiskey a try.

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Chicken Cock is another historic whiskey brand that is being introduced with big money and marketing while attempting to trade on a long dead name’s history. According to my friend at Brentwood, although it had existed as brand since 1856, it was during prohibition that Chicken Cock moved production to Canada and started shipping their product back in tin cans. That was when they started adding flavor to mask the metallic aftertaste. That particular story isn’t on their website but they do claim that Chicken Cock was a favored brand at the Cotton Club during prohibition. It stopped being made shortly thereafter and is being reintroduced by a company out of South Carolina. Flavored vodka has done wonders for spirit sales in the last five years and it is no surprise that whiskey makers are looking to jump on this trend. The brand has been marketed heavily in the south, even benefitting from an almost too good to be believed hijacking earlier this year, and has just been introduced into Ohio. So how does it taste?

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Chicken Cock currently comes in Southern Spiced, Cinnamon, and Root Beer flavors. Charlie and I tried the southern spiced on Bottoms Up and I have to admit that despite my prejudice against pseudo-history being used to sell rebottled, flavored whiskey, I actually kind of liked it. Chicken Cock’s motto is “More Heat, Less Sweet” and it lives up to it. At 86 proof it does bring the heat. Rather than tasting like syrup with a hint of alcohol, you can actually taste the whiskey. The southern spiced flavor is strong on the vanilla, with a nice touch of cinnamon and clove. I have heard flavored whiskey apologists making the claim that these spirits can serve as a stepping stone that allows non-whiskey drinkers to be converted to the taste. This is the first flavored whiskey that I can actually imagine being able to do that.

While this hasn’t exactly converted me to being a flavored whiskey drinker, this is one that I will be happy to bring a long to a bourbon tasting so that the non-whiskey drinkers can get a chance to enjoy  something more approachable that does give them a bit of whiskey flavor. I would also recommend Chicken Cock as being a nice thing to sip from a flask while Christmas caroling since the flavoring would once again serve the purpose of masking any metallic weirdness and it has enough heat to warm you up on a cold night. If you have been wanting to experiment with drinking whiskey but just can’t stomach the taste, Chicken Cock might just be the flavor you are looking for.