Whiskey Review: Rocker Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Rocker Whiskey

By Katelyn Best / April 24, 2017

We often hear stories about bearded men inspired to start distilleries by things like deep conversations with older, manlier men, or frustration with white-collar life. But Rocker Spirits in Littleton, Colorado, had a more unusual inspiration: an oil can.

The “initial vision” for the distillery, according to them, came when co-founder Duston Evans stumbled upon a 1930s-era oil can with a unique design. The cylindrical container’s spout is on the round surface, and its two handles are positioned so that the user holds one to roll the can forward and pour, and the other serves to stabilize it when not in use. It’s a clever design, and you can see it in action here.

Rocker Whiskey

image via Rocker

The only connection between the oil can and the distillery is the shape of the heavily-branded, custom-designed bottle. Other than that, what we’re dealing with seems to be a pretty run-of-the-mill start-up operation that’s selling sourced booze until they can get their own stills up and running. They opened August of last year, and they’re selling vodka and rum as well as whiskey.

The whiskey itself is of unknown provenance—the label says “produced and bottled in Littleton, Colorado”—but it’s reportedly a 70% corn, 30% wheat mash made from Minnesota-grown grains. It’s aged at least three years in new oak, and bottled at 96 proof.

What’s more important to me, though, is how well the bottle works.

When I did my first take, I wasn’t totally clear on the technique I was supposed to use. I uncorked the whiskey, placed my glass several inches from the business side of the bottle, and tipped it over with my hand, maintaining my grasp on the bottle through the whole process. That technique worked okay, although I was glad I did it near the sink:

But that’s not, according to the distillery’s informational video (linked above), what you’re supposed to do. According to Douglas Laib from O-I North America, the glass company that produces the bottles, “when the bottle is poured, it’ll rock back into position, which is wonderful. No other bottle can do that.” There’s then a demonstration, showing several bottles being tipped over, then rolling helpfully back to their starting position all on their own (perhaps as a subtle warning, all the bottles in the video are sealed).

I do not recommend that you do this.

Despite that disappointment, I did taste the whiskey, and my notes are as follows:

Tasting Notes: Rocker Whiskey

Vital stats: 70% corn/30% wheat mash, aged 3+ years in charred new oak, bottled at 96 proof.

Appearance:  Medium amber

Nose: Copious warm spice and a stale graininess mingle to give the impression of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I also get a whiff of fruit—cherry or blackberry—plus some vanilla, but like Proust and the madeleine, I’m overwhelmed by memories of munching on breakfast cereal while watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Palate: Nothing unexpected here. There’s plenty more baking spice, plus syrupy caramel and vanilla, plus more spice. Red fruit on the back of the palate. Wood lingers.

The Takeaway

Summary

This whiskey is fine in the same way so many sourced whiskeys are: there's nothing objectionable about it, but there's also nothing interesting about it. Regardless of whether it works as Douglas explained (it doesn't), the bottle design is, indeed, striking (no pun intended re: the breaking of my shot glass), and sometime in the future, maybe these bottles will be sold with actual Colorado spirits in them.

Until then, there's nothing to recommend this particular whiskey unless you're looking for something cool to put on your desk.

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