Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
I have a growing respect for non-distilling producers. For the unfamiliar, these are the whiskey brands who bottle stock from other distillers rather than filling their own barrels. There’s historically been a bit of resistance to the concept. It’s been seen as a lesser alternative to the authenticity of true distilling, and has even been seen as deceptive.
While these bottlers aren’t creating new liquid, I believe they’re doing a service to the broader world of whiskey.
Unlike most other spirits, whiskey has to age. This makes it pretty much impossible to increase supply on short notice if demand increases. This, in turn, creates a serious risk of shortages and drastic spikes in price. You can see this in how high the prices of single malt scotch have spiked in recent years in response to high demand and supply limitations. I see non-distilling producers as a balancing force against such volatility.
Right now, there is a great deal of whiskey languishing in various forms of storage. While some of it is aging gracefully, there’s a decent deal that’s ready for use. Some of it is stock made by a mass distiller in anticipation of future demand. Some is the remaining stock from a distiller who went under. Sometimes barrels just don’t mature the way a distiller hopes they will, and they stay in the aging facility. That is exactly the kind of liquid that a non-distilling partner can get out of the warehouse and on to the shelf.
Getting more whiskey on to the shelf should mean more selection and more stable prices. Moreover, there is an art to blending that many non-distilling producers utilize to great effect. The right pairing can take multiple spirits that aren’t reaching their potential in the barrel and create something worthy of the bottle. The right mix can also build on the basic flavor profile of a mass-produced spirit with a riff of unique flavor.
I’ve had a blend from Proof and Wood, the non-distilling producer behind today’s expression, before. It was a blend of Canadian whisky and American whiskey, finished in a rum cask. The flavor profile was interesting, and showcased how much a producer can bring just through blending and finishing. Today’s expression is The Cabinet, a blend of rye whiskey and bourbon bottled at barrel proof. I’m interested in seeing another example of what they can bring to the shelf just through using existing stock.
Tasting Notes: Proof And Wood The Cabinet Barrel Proof 2023
Vital Stats: 56.24% ABV; Mash bill: Blend of 95% Rye, 5% Barley and 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Barley; 112.48 Proof; MSRP 165.99 USD
Nose: There’s a sweet, caramel forward nose, but with a bit of nutmeg. It has a creamy, toasty feel that evokes a sweetened seasonal latte, with just a tinge of burn to let you know it’s been spiked.
Palate: The burn is not immediate, with an otherwise light mouthfeel. The spiciness of the rye is clearer on the tongue, and the nutmeg taste evolves into woodier tones of sandalwood and cigar box. The sweetness doesn’t have a strong taste of its own, but instead forms a cooling baseline that the spices can dance around. The finish is long and spicy as the sweetness fades into a slightly bitter taste of nutmeg, pepper, and cinnamon bark.