Whiskey Name: Griffo Stout Whiskey
Whiskey Type: American whiskey (stout-finished)
Release Date: 2017
Price: Not yet available in the UK, but apparently due to be around the same price as Stony Point
Mashbill: Presumably the same as Stony Point (which, since reviewing it, I have discovered to be 50% corn, 35% rye, 15% malted barley)
Introduction/Background: The second in the pair that we were sent on behalf of Griffo and, to be honest, the one I was most looking forward to tasting. We’ve reviewed an excellent stout-finished whiskey from Reservoir previously, and I’m surprised there aren’t more of them about.
Ostensibly beer finishes make more sense than wine finishes; you would imagine that the flavours would meld better with those of the whiskey, without overwhelming quite so much.
It’s also more likely that a whisk(e)y distillery would have a local brewery than a local winery; you’d be amazed how many Sherry bodegas aren’t based in Speyside, for example. (Though, as mentioned in the Stony Point review, Griffo have some bloody excellent wineries on their doorstep, and my soul yearns for a whiskey finished in ex-Sonoma red casks.)
Unlike Stony Point this whiskey is entirely aged in virgin US oak casks before being transferred to the stout barrels, which previously held beer from nearby Lagunitas Brewery.
I wasn’t wholly convinced by the Stony Point; felt the grain was a little too sharp and raw, and that it could do with either longer ageing, or a bit of taming through smoke or finish. So let’s see how this one pans out.
Appearance: Maple syrup
Nose: Still the cereal lift of the Stony Point, but here it’s accompanied by a roasty, toasty, malty depth. Coffee beans and unsweetened dark chocolate. Orange peel and ginseng. (My housemate buys ginseng-scented soap, that’s how I know. To be honest I’m not even totally clear what ginseng is. But I know what it smells like.) It’s a seriously dry nose overall, just a smatter of prune for a dab of sweetness.
Mouth: More of that blackened toast and coffee on the palate, then absolutely bucketloads of chocolate malt; more than a touch reminiscent of Westland’s American Oak. Rye bread and fresh-ground black pepper. Walnuts and gingernut biscuits. It’s grippy and drying, and it’s mouthcoating even at this strength.
Finish: Heads back in a grainy direction, but the toastiness lingers.
Value for Money: Not far off. (And I’m quite mean.)
Summary: A big step up from the Stony Point, and just what Griffo’s whiskey needs at this age. As I made pretty clear in the first review, it’s really sharp, youthful stuff at the moment; good spirit that has the legs to go some distance in barrel, but which hadn’t had time in Stony Point form.
What I like about this stout finish is that it hasn’t swamped the Griffo character; that liveliness and clarity of grain is still there, it just isn’t as raw and as vicious as it is in Stony Point, and some much needed bass has been added.
It’s still a youthful thing, and those who like their whiskies to be really sweet may find the dryness a little uncompromising, but I’m a fan. And you know what? I reckon I’ll be even more of a fan in a couple of years.
But I still want a cherrywood-smoked red wine finish. Please?
Overall Verdict: Unusual in a good way, and worth trying. Could be a brilliant pour for a boilermaker, too. (Possibly buy a glass before going the whole hog on a bottle).
Note: This review is of a sample provided on behalf of Griffo Distillery. But we’re perfectly prepared to be critical nonetheless where necessary. Otherwise people would stop reading, and rightly so.