Return of the Mystery Whisky Shopper | Blog #67

Last year I had a lot of fun visiting Total Wine in Orlando and pulling a “mystery shopper” on them to see which direction they would steer me for whisky choice. See Blog HERE

Finding myself back in Orlando again I made a bee line back to Total Wine to visit Chris and the team and grab another interesting bottle.

Chris remembered us so there was no mystery shopping this time around. A lot of interesting drams that were available last year were no longer on the shelf. Willet, Angel’s Envy Rye and even Buffalo Trace were all non existant.

To say that American Whiskey has exploded in popularity would be an understatement.

So I asked Chris to suggest something a little secret and unknown to the majority of whisky hunters.

Chris handed me a bottle of Mellow Corn for the bargain basement price of $ 12.99. I had to admit looking at the garishly bright old school label and even…cough… the inexpensive nature of the whisky that it was a hard sell. Chris was not perturbed however and jumped right into explaining why it was worth a shot.

Apart from the amazing price, Chris promised a smooth and delicious dram at 50% alcohol with lovely bourbon sweet notes.

According to Chris, Mellow Corn will not be around much longer as the corn fields used have been converted to a different strain used to make ethanol. Definitely not drinking a bottle of that.

Distilled by Heaven Hills Distillery in Louisville Kentucky Mellow Corn has the same label that it had when it was released in the 1940’s. The ugly yellow label has now become a cool retro badge of honor and Mellow Corn has found a niche in mixology bars in California and New York.

Bourbon by law requires a minimum of 51% corn in the mashbill. Mellow Corn is 90% corn which is a rarity and is considered a Straight Corn Whiskey.

Right so with bottle of Mellow Corn purchased and a bit more time waxing lyrical with Chris about the state of Scotch sales and other interesting whisky topics it was back to the hotel for a much anticipated dram.

Tasted in a hotel rocks glass outside on the deck in sticky 30 degree Orlando weather.

Mellow Corn Whisky Mellow Corn Whisky

Nose: A touch closed at 50% and getting in too close gives the 50% a chance to make it’s presence felt but no where near what you might expect. With gentle swirling and placement lovely buttery sweet and lightly spicy character comes to the fore and actually a little more time in the glass and it starts to shine with even the slight prickle I got at the start completely gone.

Palate: Great combination of sweet buttered corn on the cob with a dusting of cinnamon. I have never tried this combo but could be worth a go next time I am throwing foil wrapped cobs on the BBQ. You would not guess that this whiskey is 50%. Balanced, smooth and well….. mellow.

Finish: A touch of heat does acompany the finish and the spice level kicks up a notch but all the while still underpinned with lovely sweet corn notes. It lingers on and the sweetness hangs right there till the end keeping the spice from overpowering.

Water/ice: While I didn’t add water or try it on the rocks for this tasting given the warm weather I think that might be on the agenda for tomorrow. I think it will lend itself well to a wee splash or one nice cube.

After 4 years of aging in used casks Mellow Corn is impressive to say the least. Of course there is no way you can buy a bottle of 50% anything in Canada for $12.99 and I would think even if Mellow Corn was available it would run closer to $ 30 or more and would still be worth every penny.

If Chris is right about the imminent demise of this throw back label then I would grab a bottle or two of Mellow Corn the next time you are down in the US. Total Wine still has good stocks and I’m sure some searching online will offer up other options.

Thanks heaps Chris for steering me into something I would never have normally picked up off the shelf.

I have always cried a mantra of not judging labelling or price or being snobby about whisky/ey, however standing there cringing at the price and label I’m ashamed to say that I failed to live up to it on this occassion. Never judge a book by it’s cover. Great call Chris.

I look forward to another fun visit to Total Wine Orlando next year.


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