Nose: The nose is kinda light with mostly alcohol scents. It is a bit on the moonshiney side, but is so light that it only slightly reminds me of moonshine. Despite its name, I don’t really get any smoke at all. It has just a tad bit of hay and honey smell towards the end. Palate: The mouthfeel is rather light and a bit watery, but it has a long finish. The finish has a moderate amount of heat that lasts almost the whole way through it, so it is pretty long. The finish also has a decent amount of pepper and a lesser amount of cinnamon. I really like smokey whiskies, but this has a smokiness that is also bitter. And, you can taste its youth, with moonshiney flavors coming through. It is mostly at the beginning of the sip, but you still pick up hints of it toward the end of the finish. For some reason, the smoke and moonshine just don’t mix very well. After the long finish, there’s a bit of an aftertaste that lingers. It isn’t awful, but it isn’t what I would describe as desirable, overly pleasant or inviting. Comments: This is 80 proof (but tastes higher), made from 100% malted barley, and only comes in 375 ml bottles. Total Wine sells this for $30. I will admit that this wasn’t as bad as I remembered it to be and isn’t so much “crap” as “very disappointing". That said, I still wouldn’t buy another bottle of it in its present form. If I had to pick only one defect in this one, it would be the lack of good balance. Like many craft products, I think this one in particular MIGHT be salvaged by more time in the barrel. (It is only aged 6 months, in small barrels.) If you got rid of the moonshiney aspects, the mesquite actually adds an interesting and different twist to the usual type of smokiness you can pick up on from certain “smokey” whiskies. I think more time in the barrel would also add a richness to the mouthfeel AND taste. That said, in Texas, I think it would need much longer in the barrel than it would in KY.
A note about Texas whiskey: In fairness, I have to note that I have a bit of a bias. I do not like Texas whiskey. When I once asked an owner of a liquor store in San Antonio for a recommendation of a good Texas bourbon, HIS response was, “There are no good Texas bourbons.” He then explained his reasoning……."it is HOT in Texas, which is good for whiskey. But good whiskey also needs COLD weather, which Texas does NOT have. So that “in and out of the wood” that occurs in the barrels in Kentucky does NOT occur to the same extent in Texas." Well……darn if he wasn’t right. I bought a few Texas whiskey selections there anyway, but none of them were worth what I paid for them. Lesson learned. I now avoid Texas whiskey like the plague…….or, perhaps more appropriately, the Corona Virus. A while after writing this, I realized that, to be fair, I should also let you know that I have not ever tried any of the more “famous” (older? larger scale?) Texas whiskies (mainly, because of the cost) …..so, my bias may lean toward the smaller, “craft” stuff. I like to think of myself as open-minded, so I’m open to trying options from Texas, despite my earlier statement.