KOVAL Charred Wheat Whiskey
I can only think of a handful of tasks that are more difficult than giving a name. As a father, there was a tiny bit of contention between my wife and I when we were awaiting the arrival of our little one. Naming your business is a big decision. I’m gonna give KOVAL major kudos for their choice. Slides right out with the effort of only 2 syllables and sounds as cool as their contemporary branding. It’s almost shameful that it has historical and familial significance as well. Come on! KOVAL, in some dialects means someone who “forges ahead.” Sonat Birnecker’s (President of KOVAL) great grandfather actually earned the nickname KOVAL when he left Vienna to start a factory in Chicago, a few blocks away from the distillery. Alright, that’s enough. I don’t usually spend much time with the name but I feel that this warranted some acknowledgement. So, I’ll take another sip of their delicious whiskey out of respect for their genius name decision.
It’s worth noting that Robert (Master Distiller and CEO) and Sonat Birnecker are both doctorate holding, well-educated executives. Their family has a history steeped in the spirit industry. It’s no accident they work in the industry because with just cursory level research you quickly realize they could work in the business of their choosing. God bless them sticking with the whiskey industry. Robert is a 4th Generation distiller. His family still runs a distillery and winery near Salzburg, Austria, a beautiful area if you’ve been privileged enough to visit. Perhaps this connection gives you a glimpse into their sophisticated, contemporary branding. Robert has educated and/or consulted for a third of all craft distilleries that have started in the past four years. That’s pretty impressive if you choose to ask my opinion. Watch out big whiskey, Braveheart has been reincarnated and he has a 5000L still that possesses more technology than a rocket ship and he’s educating other boutique distilleries.
The KOTHE Still
I’m not going to say too much because all you need to do is look at the picture and drool but here’s a few facts from their website:
- Custom, hand-crafted still made by Kothe Distillation Technologies Inc.
- 5000L full capacity
- 23.5 Feet Tall: I hope there’s a good explanation for the extra half-foot. It’s Chicago……Bulls are the NBA Franchise…..Guy who was good at the basketball thing wore a number most people recognize….23. I feel that Stacy King would want me to point it out.
- Automated, computer based interface. Remotely accessible….now they are just showing off.
- High-Quality Polished Copper
- Twin-Column 18 plate design
KOVAL believes in traditional technique with contemporary equipment. Mission. Accomplished.
KOVAL has a barrel program where you can select a specific barrel you would like to purchase. You must purchase the entire barrel, which is 25 to 30 cases, but it does include the barrel. Luckily, my local Liquor Barn purchased barrel 126, which contained a delicious limited edition whiskey, since I’m not in a position to shell out the cash for my own barrel. To end the anticipation, Barrel 126 contains KOVAL Charred Wheat Whiskey. All of KOVAL’s limited edition whiskeys are single barrel, single grain organic whiskeys aged in a 30 gallon barrel. In this instance the wheat whiskey is aged in a charred oak barrel between 2-4 years.
All products and ingredients at KOVAL are according to their website:
- Certified Organic by Midwestern Organic Services Association
- Certified Kosher through the Orthodox Union
- All water is from Lake Michigan using a natural charcoal purification method
- All enzymes and yeast used in production are also organic and non-GMO
They take their product seriously and ensure that the absolute best ingredients go into their spirits.
After letting the charred wheat whiskey aerate a little I took a good whiff of the sweet aroma pouring from my snifter. My first thought was someone must’ve dropped a Werther’s Original candy in my glass. I could sense the creamy texture that was soon to coat my palate. There’s no denying this was a warm, friendly greeting for my first experience with a KOVAL whiskey. Who says hospitality resides solely in the south. Moving on, there was a prominent oak scent followed by sweet grain and banana.
After experiencing the nose on this KOVAL Wheat Whiskey, I knew I was in store for a complex and well built experience. The charred oak was very present on the middle of my palate. Towards the front there was a very clear spearmint flavor. The back of my palate had this sweet grain taste. I spent several minutes trying to decide on something to attribute it to. The closest I can get is banana bread. The texture is luxurious and buttery. For those keeping track, this is hitting almost every flavor profile and the build is resonating on the areas of the palate they are supposed to. I’m beginning to be suspicious that their remote access doesn’t end with their Kothe Still.
This KOVAL Wheat Whiskey finished perfectly. It was clean but didn’t vanish. That velvety texture still coated the palate and I was left feeling satisfied. The mint note hung on the front and the sweet grain rested in the back. I was tempted to delve into another glass to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes but alas it was a Tuesday.
My eyes are like saucers I’m so in love. Maybe I’ll buy my own barrel and find a nice rock to crawl under but I feel that the Birnecker’s progressive genius is too prevalent in the DNA of this whiskey to encourage any lack of productivity on my part. Instead, I’ll begin gathering my offering to place at the base of Saint Kothe Still. I highly recommend purchasing this KOVAL Wheat Whiskey. It’s complex and delicious. I love their branding, innovative nature, slick website and their name, KOVAL. I only feel that I may not be cool or sophisticated enough to truly appreciate all they have to offer. Either way, I had the currency to procure some for myself and that’s all that I needed in the great USA.
KOVAL Charred Wheat Sazerac Cocktail
I was hesitant to even make a cocktail for fear of wasting precious ounces of this heavenly substance. But a well-done Sazerac with quality ingredients is always great.
- 1.5 oz KOVAL Charred Wheat Whiskey
- 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1/3 oz Absente Absinthe
- Splash of Fresh Lemon Juice
Chill DOF glass of choice. I used the glass I purchased at Whistling Straits a number of years ago. Rinse Absinthe in glass and pour out. Pour KOVAL Charred Wheat Whiskey into glass with 3 medium cubes of ice. Add 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters and a splash of fresh lemon juice and gently stir for a few moments. It’s a classic cocktail that’s worthy and delicious. I will point out that you should be careful with this cocktail. Should you tangle too much you are liable to start seeing things through a whole new lens.