Bankhall Sweet Mash Grain Spirits 46% 70cl
I have some very good friends who are Scotch nerds, but not really big on American whiskies. So it was with some surprise that I got a message from them while they were down at The Whisky Show this October to say 'Check out Bankhall. US style whisky. VERY GOOD.'
It was even more of a surprise to find out Bankhall was based in Blackpool. Blackpool?!
The Bankhall Distillery was set up by Halewood Spirits in 2020 - Halewood are a brand owner who, to be honest, don't have the greatest of reputations within the drinks industry due to what was an initial focus on cheaper, low quality brands. However it appears there is now a move away from this towards a more premium portfolio with a focus on quality, not quantity.
The Master Distiller is Vince Oleson, who was previously a MD at the Widow Jane Distillery in Brooklyn, New York. This release of Bankhall uses a combination of corn, rye and malted barley in a 'Bourbon-style' recipe. The mashbill proportions are not stated but it's pretty clear it'll be over 50% corn, and initial impression are of a high-rye content. What is also interesting is the fact this is a 'Sweet Mash' whisky, where the yeast used for fermentation is fresh every time, as opposed to the standard technique of including a bit of the previous mash in each ongoing batch - Sweet Mash offers more complex flavours, but it is less consistent and can go wrong very easily.
On the nose there is instantly rich, sweet caramel. Not artificial though, we're talking that type of caramel that is almost overcooked and has a very slighty charred note. There's a nuttiness too - hazel- and Brazil nuts, plus a feeling of a crumble topping that's under the grill.
On the palate we have a nice bite of alcohol which quickly softens to runny caramel, baked apples and high-cocoa dark chocolate. The finish isn't that long, but what there is is very pleasant.
And here's the kicker - it's only 9 months old. I'm so impressed at the complexity of flavours in such a young spirit, and I really can't wait to see how this develops over time as it is giving so much already but clearly has plenty more to give. Some drinkers may find this too young, or too sweet - I get that, but this is ticking a lot of boxes for me and it's a really good cocktail 'Bourbon', particularly at the price point!
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