Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Misunderstood Whiskey. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Don’t be misled by the name, some beverage industry players seem to be getting good vibes from Misunderstood Whiskey. The brand has a good story to tell; founders JD Recobs and Chris Buglisi are childhood friends who pursued whiskey infusion together as a passion project in their spare time. The result of their experiments was a ginger infused whiskey that was met with enthusiasm at the 2017 Jersey City Whiskey Fest. Thanks to the exposure and a rising profile they began to distribute regionally, and last year Misunderstood was added to the Sazerac Co’s 375 Park Avenue portfolio. Widening distribution is likely to follow soon.
The founder’s stated goal for Misunderstood is “to bridge the gap between whiskey connoisseurs and those who were newer to whiskey.” This is something that you’ve probably heard from flavored whiskey brands before. These brands often attempt to balance broad appeal with an acknowledgment of flavored whiskey’s poor standing with critics.
My own past experiences with flavored whiskeys have not been pleasant, leading me to need to admit to some learned skepticism of the category. Many that I’ve tried before don’t do much beyond add artificial flavorings that clash with the underlying whiskey, producing a confusion on the palate that marketing departments insist on referring to as “fun.” At this point I’m sincerely hoping to come across a flavored whiskey that I enjoy, if for no other reason than to prove that I’m perfectly capable of having fun if what I’m drinking tastes good.
Misunderstood seems like a promising candidate. The idea of infusing an American whiskey with the peppery pungence of ginger is legitimately interesting to me and the story of a couple hobbyists learning the ropes of whiskey blending is a good one. It sounds as if Recobs and Buglisi are taking the whiskey itself seriously. According to them, “What makes Misunderstood unique is our finishing and blending process. We blend our bourbon with American whiskey finished on various types of oak for different flavor profiles way before we finish with the ginger. We do this so when you get different flavor profiles, the mid-note, and finish, it’s coming from our grain, our wood, and of course, our ginger”.
Even if I’m approaching this tasting “gingerly”, I’m still “root”-ing for the product to turn out well. Sorry… it’s been a long pandemic…
Tasting Notes: Misunderstood Ginger Spiced Whiskey
Vital Stats: No age statement. Bottled at 80 proof. Standard retail price for a 750ml bottle is $30.
Appearance: Somewhere in the press I read about Misunderstood it was mentioned that crushed ginger was visible in the bottle–this was not the case with the bottle I demoed. I found it to be a lighter brass color. The body was also noticeably light, but not loose or watered down.
Nose: I was not surprised to find ginger was dominant here, but there was also a touch of vanilla. If I was presented this in a blind test, I might take it for a decent quality ginger ale.
Palate: Ginger is, again, the star of the show, complete with the mild tingling sensation it produces in the mouth. With such a strong flavor at the forefront, you have to concentrate to pick out much else, but the whiskey is definitely there with some toffee notes that emerge as the initial burst of ginger fades.
The added flavor complements a somewhat general whiskey profile and does not add any exorbitant sweetness. I’m not likely to pour it for myself as a sipper, but it is not hard for me to imagine that mixing drinks with Misunderstood’s Ginger Spiced Whiskey could be legitimately fun. Aside from the obvious substitutions in ginger beer cocktails, this seems like a natural fit for a toddy or maybe a highball.