Whiskey Review: Delaware Phoenix Corn Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Delaware Phoenix Corn Whiskey

As with the business world, haute cuisine, and the United States Congress, whiskey distilling is a game long dominated by men. It’s a fact Cheryl Lins, owner, distiller, and distributor at Delaware Phoenix Distillery, makes no bones about. “There are many people out there,” she writes on her website, who hold the view “that men are the only distillers out there, and the more facial hair they have the better they are at (or could be) distilling.”

Lins is living proof of just how wrong this stereotype is: in a world where so many male-owned “craft distilleries” hawk sourced spirits, she does every step of the process herself, from fermentation and aging to designing the labels on her bottles.

Located in Walton, New York, Lins got her start making absinthe. She became interested in the spirit after reading a New Yorker article about it in 2006, and decided to try her hand at making her own after ordering it from Europe got to be too expensive. Since then, she’s expanded her repertoire to include three different absinthes and four whiskeys: a bourbon, a rye, a wheat whiskey, and this corn whiskey.

Corn whiskey differs from bourbon in two respects. First, with bourbon, the mash is legally required to contain at least 51% corn, but generally doesn’t exceed 80%. Corn whiskey, on the other hand, must be made with at least 80% corn. Second, while bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels, corn whiskey can be unaged. If it is aged, this has to be done in either used barrels or new, uncharred oak barrels.

Lins’s corn whiskey is aged in used charred barrels for somewhere between six months and two years. Each batch is a little different with respect to aging and mash bill; while every barrel is 80% New York-grown corn, the remainder is a variable mix of malted barley and malted rye. It’s distilled in a copper pot still and bottled at 100 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Pale gold with light legs

Nose: A refreshing medley of sweet corn, grass, and cucumber is most noticeable. These bright, vegetal tones are anchored solidly by buttery oak.

Palate: Quite light on the palate, with a somewhat darker flavor profile than the nose. I tasted grass and cucumber, together with a heavier corn note not unlike popcorn.

Finish: Light but not too short. Flavor-wise, the finish is somewhat mineral, with a hoppy bitterness that fades pleasantly to sweet corn.

Conclusion:

In one word, I would describe this corn whiskey as summery. It’s easy-drinking but not one-dimensional, light but not watery. The sweet corn and cucumber notes are as tasty as they are unexpected, and I can imagine this whiskey would make a delicious mint julep, though it might be an insult to Lins’s craftsmanship to add anything to it.

FINAL SCORE: 92/100 [SHOP FOR A BOTTLE OF DELAWARE PHOENIX CORN WHISKEY]