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Whiskey Review: Cleveland Whiskey Uncommon: Black Cherry

Cleveland Whiskey

image copyright The Whiskey Wash

Recently I was given the opportunity to speak with Cleveland Whiskey owner and industry innovator Tom Lix about his unique and controversial whiskey aging process. Having now learned a little about the science behind his products, I’m turning to reviewing some of their whiskies, starting with a recent release from Cleveland Whiskey’s Uncommon Barrel Collection.

This bourbon, like the distillery’s more mainstream releases, is artificially aged using Lix’s proprietary process and cherry wood to finish. This difference in wood imparts its own flavor profile into the bourbon.  The first thing one notices is the dark color in the bottle, which is mostly caused by the wide, black label. In the glass it becomes a lighter amber, but retains a lot of its red hues. The next thing is the 94 proof rating, which you pick up on from the first whiff out of the bottle to the lingering burn when you finish a dram.

I find the nose of this bourbon pleasantly astringent, which gives way to notes of spice like cinnamon and cloves, wheat and fresh sweetgrass, along with tart cherries and slight citrus. Once the alcohol faded I caught lighter notes of vanilla and leather.

On the palette I really noticed the tartness of this whiskey, a bit like berries picked a little early, but still pleasant. Very little of the spice noticed in the nose comes to the front, which makes plenty of room for notes of dried apricots and other fruit, along with orange zest. It also has light tastes of vanilla and wood, similar to drinking a young whiskey.

The finish is fairly smooth, with a good balance of spice and wood. Fruit and leather take a backseat.

I haven’t gotten the chance to add it to any cocktails, but it seems like the type to fit right in for a different twist on your favorite. Overall I give this odd little bourbon an 86.

About the author

Dan Sampson

I’ve always been a bit of a foodie, which translated into drinks when I turned twenty-one. A few years ago, a friend got me into top shelf whiskey and my interest snowballed from there. I still enjoy drinking Jack Daniels when the chance arrives, but my favorite whiskeys are rye and Scotch.

  • Bill Richardson

    How can it be a bourbon if it uses cherry wood. That falls out of the U.S. standard for bourbon. Or am I mistaken?

  • Bill Richardson

    Also they speed up the aging process so it is not aged in New charred oak barrels.?????

    • Dan Sampson

      From what I understand, it does spend the mandatory six months in a new barrel. Then it is place in the presure tanks to speed the aging. This piticular release goes through a small amount of oak aging, then finished with the cherry wood. The process is a bit hard to comprehend because of the American legal standards. I would also prefer he call it a whiskey instead of bourbon, and that may still happen in the future.

  • Charlie DiLauro

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourbon_whiskey
    Read what the rules are. “Aged in new charred oak barrels” doesn’t say how long it has to be in there for at all. The process uses cherry wood to impart the flavor, just not while sitting in the barrel. After its in the barrels, it goes through a process with barrel chips that actually gives flavor. The U.S. standard says nothing about what type of wood gives it its flavor, just what type of barrel it has to sit in and it doesn’t say that sitting in that barrel has to give it flavor.