Whiskey Review: Otay Buckwheat Spirit

, | October 1, 2015

Otay Buckwheat Spirit

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

Catskill Distilling Company is a distillery crafting whiskey, gin, grappa and more on their farm distillery in Bethel, New York. Purported to be “the one and only” whiskey-adjacent spirit made from almost entirely buckwheat, Otay Buckwheat Spirit is the distillery’s pride.

A Little Rascals reference, Otay Buckwheat cannot legally be called whiskey due to the fact that, technically, buckwheat is not considered a grain. However, for all intents and purposes, Otay certainly seems to be a whiskey. With a mashbill that’s 80% buckwheat and 20% corn and malted barley though, it is a “whiskey” unlike any other.

Here are my tasting notes and score:

A deep reddish toffee hue in the glass, Otay Buckwheat promises depth.

Sweet, airy, and light on the nose. Milled grain and sugar. After a few minutes, the sweetness transforms into spice. Black pepper, anise and black currant combine for a compelling sweet and savory bouquet.

The first impression on the palate is bitterness. Tobacco leaves and a significant amount of leather make a deep impression. The spirit is sweet and salty, leaning towards sweaty. Blackstrap molasses and charred ocean driftwood compliment the soft mouthfeel. Altogether on the palate, the experience is not unlike chewing on a leather armchair in a smoking parlor.

A heavy tobacco aftertaste follows, in addition to iron, smoke, soot and burnt hay. Black pepper and smoked salt linger for a significant amount of time. The desire to immediately eat a steak or take a roll in the hay does not dissipate quickly.

This whiskey like offering proved to be an experience like no other whiskey. I heartily recommend it for those looking to expand their idea of what whiskey is or just like the taste of armchairs.

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I find Otay Buckwheat merits a score of 91. You can hunt for a bottle of it online for sale through a range of retailers here.

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Savannah Weinstock

I am a graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR whose Environmental Studies thesis focused on “Scotch Whisky, Sustainability, and Commodification of Nature & Culture”. While writing my thesis, I spent time living and studying in Glasgow, Scotland where I visited and interviewed distilleries nationwide, concentrating on the...