Whiskey Review: Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV

I consider drinking whiskey blind a game and like to play often. So after I received this bottle for reviewing, I forgot what I heard about it and didn’t fully read the label before trying it. I thought I’d just take a casual taste first. The first sip said WHAM!!! Hazmat!! I felt the 139.2 proof beam straight thru and followed up with an unusual aftertaste I couldn’t recognize!

Whoa! What was that? I put the bottle down and let it rest for a couple of weeks.  After taking a bit of a break, I picked it up again and discovered a very unusual whiskey. A little water took the bite down and opened up the unique flavors.

The Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV is sharp, spicy, and distinct. I found that proof can really take you by surprise since the flavors are so unique. I’m familiar and comfortable with high proof bourbon which tends not to have quite the surprise factor. This is uncommon at high proof or watered down. I’ll admit, just drinking enough to finish these tasting notes had me pretty lit and my lips were a bit numb. But, the hops must be what has developed these unusual flavors.

Alright, beer and high proof whiskey lovers, this one’s for you! Charbay whiskey is distilled from ready to drink beer by Bear Public Distillers. It’s commonly known that whiskey is distilled from beer without the hops, but it’s not always a beer that you’d want to drink on its own. But this whiskey came from a huge tanker of delicious totally drinkable pilsner beer. People turning craft beer into whiskey believes you need to start with something delicious.

The background of this particular whiskey – in 1999, Master Distiller, Marko Karakasevic, distilled 22 barrels of whiskey and then decided to release it in waves over the coming years so drinkers could follow the evolving flavors. This particularly was, in part, to see how the hops that influenced the beer played against the oak aging. Each release is older than the last, 2, 6, 8, 13, and 16 years. Release IV specifically was aged 13-1/2 years, had a 223 bottle release and was put into bottle at an extremely hardy 139.2 proof.

Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV

Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV (image via Charbay)

Tasting Notes: Charbay Hop Flavored Whiskey Release IV

Vital Stats: 139.2 Barrel Proof, malted barley mash bill, aged in new charred American white oak barrels, 750 mL, bottled in 2013, $500

Appearance: The tall slender bottle has a black wax top. The whiskey is a rich copper red hue.

Nose: It has a delicious aroma of rich caramel, burnt sugar, with slight floral and tobacco scents.

Palate: This whiskey has rich mouthfeel with a lingering finish on the upper palate. It has a somewhat bitter finish.

The Takeaway

This is a truly distinct whiskey, both in the process and flavors. The hops are quite pronounced. This release is rare, only 223 bottles were released in 2013. But it's not for everyone. If you enjoy a wide variety of styles of whiskey, this is super distinctive and worth trying, especially if you enjoy high proof. This one is extremely fun to taste with friends since it is so unique.

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About the author

Jeneen Bell

Bourbon is my comfort whiskey. But there is so much variety to whiskey that I will never limit myself to just one kind. I'm a bit of a whiskey geek. I can often be found listening to podcasts or reading books about the topic. I'm a Certified Bourbon Steward and President of the Women Who Whiskey Portland chapter.