Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Band, State, City and University have nothing to apologize for.



In October of 2011 I was sent a bottle of Kansas (Clean Distilled) Whiskey and the press kit for it. After reading the major selling points and the history behind Kansas (The whiskey, not the band) I was ready to file it all under the heading of WTFWTT (What The F$%K Were They Thinking?) and walk away. But I could not do that, it would not be professional. So, I took the bottle home and did what any good liquor reviewer would do: I let the bottle sit on my shelf for a month.

On a random day in November, I opened the elongated flask-shaped glass bottle, poured myself three fingers worth of the cream colored whiskey, took a healthy swig and something interesting happened: I discovered that I was drinking a horrible whiskey.

Usually this is where I go into a scathing two-page rant on why I think Kansas (The whiskey not the State) is one of the worst whiskeys on the planet, compare it to a WMD and make witty jokes about it using references from TV shows and movies that have long since passed. But I have matured and come to see the big picture. The big picture is...This is not the whiskey I was looking for and the sad thing is they told me this right from the start.

The Press Kit for Kansas contains the following selling points:
  • Not fusty, tweedy or rednecky.
Basically, Kansas (The whiskey not the City) believes that whiskey is for old people who enjoy Jeff Foxworthy jokes. On that point they're half right - I turned 43 years old in January, but I couldn't pick Foxworthy out of a line up.
Foxworthy is the guy wearing the shirt, right?
And for the record - whiskey, good whiskey, is supposed to have an aged olfactory quality to it. If a whiskey smells like CK One, then something has gone horribly wrong in the process of making said whiskey.
  • Appeals to both men and women who enjoy vodka.
This point struck me as odd. When I want whiskey I drink whiskey, and when I want vodka I drink vodka, the two trains have never met. And I believe the same holds true for most real drinkers.
  • Can be consumed neat wearing bikini or slithery cocktail dress.
Slithery? Really, I'm calling poor word choice on that. I'm guessing Kansas' target audience is women and cross dressers. Since I can't pull off a strapless Blood Red Valentino gown...
  • Dark brown is sexy unless you are drinking something dark brown.
HUH? I'm brown and I taste delicious. Sorry, I could not resist.
  • Mixes well to create an astonishing variety of cocktails.
Now we arrive at the heart of the matter. I will agree that Kansas goes well in a variety of cocktails but so does ice. Kansas (the Whiskey, not the University) is such a substandard excuse of a whiskey that it cannot stand up to even simple ingredients.

The Kansas Cooler
1 1/2 oz. Kansas
An unmentioned amount of Ginger Ale
Squeeze of Lemon or Lime
Dash of bitters
Ice
Whiskey and ginger ale have been successfully paired together since the invention of the bar...until now; I made and drank The Kansas Cooler. I will not make nor drink it again. The taste, smell and finish is that of sour ginger ale with bitters. If you don't know what bitters are, have no fear;
  • It is a highly concentrated food and beverage flavoring agent than works to bind your various ingredients.
Adding bitters to this cocktail does not work because there is nothing for it to bind but the juice and the ginger ale. You end up with a glass of watery lemon-flavored ginger ale. Kansas is doesn't have the strength to stand up ginger ale, let alone bitters.

The Kansas Twister
3 Orange wedges
Handful of Mint
2 oz. of Kansas
3/4 Simple Syrup
The muddled mash of fruit and mint is nothing more than a poor twist on The Mojito. The taste of Kansas cannot be found in this drink due to its lack of essence and flavor. It is deficient of a quality that all real whiskeys share... A back bone fortified with generations of pride in the process and an unyielding determination to make a quality product.
 
You might wonder how a whiskey can be so bad that it makes ordering a Seagram's Golden Wine Cooler a better option. The answer is in the distillation process. Kansas is a winter wheat base spirit that is column distilled. If you’re confused about the last line I’ll walk you through it.
 


·        Most whiskeys (good whiskeys) use full bodied grains like corn, rye or barley as a base. Usually whiskey is pot distilled; this is done to capture a variety of aromatic components. Using earthy grains adds a healthy sapidity to the final product (whiskey). All of which creates a spirit with strength, weight and depth that presents whiskey’s color, taste and mixability.

·        One uses wheat and a column still to make VODKA not whiskey. Column stills are used to refine or remove a variety of aromatic components (the very things that make whiskey). Your final product is a crisp, clear spirit and that’s fine but it ain’t whiskey. Yes, I used the word ain’t.

I could go on ripping apart the cocktails and the "spirit" but I won't. I won't waste my time and yours on a pop up whiskey created for Generation Hipster looking to create a Zima Effect in the liquor industry. This spirit is not for someone who has a mature palate, still plays pool in a bar and knows how to make a Manhattan, blindfolded. So, I'll end my review with this... 

If you want an easy to drink whiskey that tastes like flat crème soda and rubbing alcohol then by all means go out and grab a case. But if you want a quality whiskey, something that can be mixed or sipped or shot, then you need to look elsewhere. And by elsewhere I mean:
Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Mitcher's, Knob Creek, Jack Daniels, Gentleman Jack anything but Kansas... (The whiskey not the Sunflower State).

Till next we drink.
Everybody should believe in something; I believe I'll have another drink. 
Author Unknown

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