Whiskey Review: Rob Ruben Distilling Blue Corn Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Rob Ruben Distilling Blue Corn Bourbon

By Wendell Britt / September 29, 2017

With the passing of the Craft Distillers Act of 2015, California has seen a rise in artisanal craft distilleries. Distilleries producing less than 100,000 gallons of distillate are now allowed to host private events, have a restaurant, and serve their spirits as cocktails, all on site. Prior to the law, purchasing a bottle at a distillery in California was not possible unless there was an on-site liquor store owned and operated by a separate party.

Capitalizing on this new legislation Rob Rubens Distilling boasts the first combo brewery/ distillery in Los Angeles County, and the third in the state. Along with a number of craft beers, Rob Ruben distills vodka, gin and most recently, a blue born bourbon.

While most whiskey is produced with yellow dent corn, the distillery’s decision to produce a blue corn bourbon makes for an intriguing departure. Conventional thinking dictates that the grain used for mashing and fermentation has little effect on the flavor, but Rob Rubens Blue Corn Bourbon proves to be an exception to this notion. The blue corn provides a sweeter and nuttier flavor than regular yellow dent corn (think of the difference between blue corn tortilla chips versus regular restaurant style chips.) 

Aside from the distinctive flavor, there are distinct business advantages to the use of blue corn. From a purely marketing perspective, the lack of competition, when it comes to this type of whiskey, allows this relatively young distillery to set themselves apart. Rob Rubens Distillery also also produces a blue corn vodka and the shared ingredients can help cut production costs.  

Rob Rubens Blue Corn Bourbon

image via Rob Rubens Distilling

Tasting Notes: Rob Rubens Distilling Blue Corn Bourbon

Vital Stats: 43% ABV, no age statement, 250 ml bottle

Appearance: Deep chestnut color, slightly cloudy, with long legs. The bottle makes use of its smaller-than-usual size with an engaging blue and sliver label. 

Nose: The nutty smell dominates followed by a medium-sharp and slightly metallic aroma. There is also slight briny sea smell with tortilla chip notes.  

Palate: The palate opened with light flavor on the tongue dominated by a mix of burned popcorn, cinnamon spice and figs. Slightly more savory than sweet, a slightly aggressive alcoholic burn sneaks its down the throat.  The toasted flavor returns in the finish. Further sips reveal a bit of smoke mixed with caramel. Despite the lack of age statement on the bottle, it’s clear by flavor alone this whiskey is on the younger side of things.

The Takeaway

While this whiskey is definitely unique, that doesn't offset its younger flavor, which is a shame because what the blue corn brings to the table is very alluring. With a bit longer time in the barrel, this whiskey could end up as something more than what it is now. For drinkers interested in Southern Californian whiskeys, or for people looking for a local gift, you wouldn't be utterly disappointed with Rob Rubens Blue Corn Bourbon, and if you are visiting their distillery in person it makes sense to take a bottle home with you.

That said for those wanting to try blue corn whiskey, one of the options in the Whiskey Wash round up might be an interesting alternative.

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