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One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey – Barrel 1015

One Eight Distilling Untitled Whiskey – Barrel 1015

What is the first thing you think of when you think of Washington DC?  Spirits distilling is probably not one of those things, yet over the past decade it’s become home to an increasing amount of distilleries.  A quick look at Google Maps shows about a dozen different distilleries within a 4 mile radius of the White House. One of these distilleries is the focus of today’s review: One Eight Distilling.

One Eight Distilling is currently distilling spirits for their own whiskey and gin lines. But like so many other distilleries, they are also sourcing whiskey that is ready right now in the hopes to buy time for their own products to finish aging.

They try to distance themselves from others by experimenting with various barrel finishes for the whiskies they source to add a unique twist.

One Eight’s products are split into their own label called “District Made” and their sourced whiskies that are bottled under the “Untitled” label. I’ll be concentrating on the Untitled line for this review.

One Eight Distilling Untitled Vertical

One of the more fascinating whiskies that One Eight Distilling has sourced happens to be a 10 to 11 year old wheated bourbon that likely comes from Heaven Hill. I can’t think of anyone else except Luxco that has a sourced wheated bourbon that old.

But today’s bottle uses a sourced “High Rye Bourbon Mashbill” that likely comes from MGP. Taking a look at the finishing barrels they’ve used over the years, I see that cognacs, sherries and various wines are some of the usual suspects. But one thing that stands out is just how much Calvados casks have been utilized.

If you didn’t already know, Calvados is a type of apple brandy that comes from the Normandy region of France. It can technically use a small amount of pears in the cider that is fermented before it is distilled.

The result is a remarkably strong and pungent spirit that gets aged in a barrel for at least 2 years afterwards.

Barrel 1015 – Calvados Finished for The Blue Store

The bottle I am reviewing today just happens to be a single barrel of 11 year old bourbon that has been finished in a Calvados cask. It was selected by the Blue Store in Danville, Illinois at a not-insignificant 123 proof.

For those of you who don’t know what the Blue Store is, it’s a store that many local Hoosiers frequently drive to across the state line to find bottles that aren’t normally available around Indianapolis.

One Eight is a brand that is only sold in and around Washington DC, Illinois and Colorado, so the Blue Store was a much better option for me to try some of One Eight’s product than to fly to the other two markets.

So how will such an old bourbon taste in such a strange cask? There’s only one way to find out. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes

One Eight Distilling Untitled rear

Nose: Thick waves of pungent apple butter muscle every other scent out of the way. This is almost all you’re going to smell. It is a very acidic affair, like smelling barrel aged vinegar.

But there’s also a tremendous amount of spices here too. I can almost guarantee that these spices are coming from the Calvados rather than the bourbon. Additional scents of chocolate, prune juice and poached pears are also present, but this is a one-sided affair.

Palate: A mix between apple cider and apple butter, this is the strangest finishing barrel I’ve had in a while. The pungency of it completely covers up the bourbon, making me think this is just 123 proof Calvados.

The high proof and the acidity work tandemly to overpower everything. Surprisingly, the acidic nature of this doesn’t amplify the high proof. It is surprisingly “not hot” on the tongue, but I’m not going to say it’s “mellow” because it’s anything but.

If you came here to taste bourbon with a little extra something, you’re going to be disappointed.

Finish: All that’s left is apples. Tart apples. Apple butter. Apple cider vinegar. It’s all combined with a bit of melted butter and a small amount of nail polish.

Score: 5/10

One Eight Distilling Untitled zoom

Let me be clear, this would be a 1/10 if I were to be grading this on how good of a bourbon it is. The whole dram was oddly perplexing to keep drinking. It tasted like a totally different spirit.

Yes the Calvados was overwhelming and yes I felt that it was overall unbalanced, but it also could have been much worse. I was expecting to find bourbon and it never came through.

But the strangest thing is that I was not turned off by what was in the glass. It was just not what I was expecting or prepared for but each sip made me more and more curious.

Since I am sampling this at the cusp of fall weather and foods, I found it to be oddly appropriate. The tastes within are soon going to be what I’m immersed in for the next 2-3 months. But if I were to drink this at any other time of the year, I may find myself repulsed.

Drinking this did make one thing clear; that Calvados casks are simply too overwhelming to be a finishing cask for any type of whiskey.

There are others that are like this and should be avoided (Amaro for instance). But what I find most odd is that One Eight uses these casks SO MUCH.

Seriously, look at the descriptions for the Untitled line on Google and see how many of them are finished (or partially finished) in Calvados casks. There are A LOT. And yet people keep buying them, so maybe it’s me who is not understanding something here.

Final Thoughts

One Eight Distilling has sourced some really fun finishing barrels to include Amontillado (which is very popular to finish whiskey in right now) but finding a whiskey from them that doesn’t have at least a portion of it finished in Calvados is very hard to do.

It’s almost like their master taster has a preference for Calvados and gets to over-rule everyone else. This is strange because it’s not like they don’t already have access to other premium barrels (like PX Sherry and various Cognacs) and yet those rarely get used by themselves.

One Eight Distilling needs to permanently retire these Calvados casks. They are simply too potent to finish any kind of whiskey in.

Ratings Breakdown

1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)

2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it

3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)

4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)

5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)

6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)

7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)

8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)

9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)

10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)

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