Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

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Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby Mike » Thu May 05, 2011 8:11 pm

I have had the pleasure of drinking some of the Leopold Bros Peach Flavored Whiskey and came across a bottle of their American Small Batch Whiskey. The Brothers have impressed me with both their appreciation of the finer points of distillation and the attention to detail they require.......... and I really like the Peach Flavored Whiskey. I came across a bottle of their American Samll Batch Whiskey today and decided to give it a try. For a craft distillery product, I thought the asking price of $39 was quite reasonable. I could find no age statement for this whiskey, which is a corn/rye recipe, but suspect it is at most a couple of years in the barrel......... not necessarily a bad thing.

The Bros claim that their aim is not to reproduce current styles of whiskey but to harken back to an earlier style. One in which the flavors of the grains were appreciated as highly as those derived from the barrel. To achieve this, according to them, one must use lower barrel entry proof (this whiskey went into the barrels, which are charred white oak by the way, at 98 proof). This allows for a more expedicious extraction of the barrel sugars and hence less time in the barrel to achieve an excellent whiskey which owes considerably less than most bourbons to the barrel itself.

I am tasting this whiskey under a serious handicap because I am recovering from a respiratory infection. I will report back when my tasting and smelling apparati have recovered.

Nevertheless, several things about this whiskey are very apparent. This bottle from Barrel 24 was a wonderfully clean, clear, and pure distillate..... there are zero wayward and objectional flavors or tastes. The nose (even with a handicap) owes a lot, as intended, to the grains used, and the grains are very subtle in their approach. At 86 proof this whiskey offers a nice amount of 'delicacy' to this old fellow who enjoys the shock of an intense bourbon, but has come in the last few years to also appreciate a more subtle touch in whiskey (Irish, and even Canadian whiskies) and has been in the thrall of first rate Cognac since just before birth (my birth, not theirs).

I take this to be an excellent example of what 'craft' distillers can offer in the way of unique and exceptional whiskey. And, the price is very reasonable for such high quality whiskey, necessarily produced at low volumes. I am having a very hard time putting this bottle aside at a moment when I should.

Without, I hope, seeming snobbish about whiskies, I will go on and say that if your palate is capable of discerning the difference between sublte and soft, and rich and robust, and, can give equal weight to either, you might want to seek out this whiskey. My judgement, even absent full faculties, is that this is a first rate whiskey and fulfills every intent of its makers. We on BE are constantly exhorted with the cry, 'why don't they make it like the used to?' Well, (especially considering that perhaps 'dusties' are overrated and, are certainly limited) maybe 'they' do.

'They', in my opinion, has at least one instantiation in the Leopold Bros.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby T Comp » Thu May 05, 2011 9:41 pm

This is what I posted about the same whiskey from barrel # 3 back on November 20, 2010.

This, my first craft distilled purchase is from Barrel No. 3, 86 proof and was a little over the $30 mark on a shelf in Colorado last August. The label says it is pot distilled from open fermented sour mash. The neck tag calls it pre-prohibition style American Whiskey. The tag also contains more details on distillation which can also be found on their web site. I was drawn in the most by the stated barrelling proof of 98. There is no mention of age in the barrel but I'd guess less than a year and it's color is light. Todd Leopold is a member here and posted they were not using small barrels. He also relates that this is a bourbon though they chose not to label as such.

The nose and taste are true to one another. The first opening notes I get are a lot of yeast/fresh dough. Grain is there but in the background with a slight rye zing. Corn is more hidden to me but the sweetness is present, balanced and deliciously light brown sugar. Fruit is also there in strawberry and baking apple. Little to no alcohol flavors. This is a very light and delicate whiskey which for a former wine guy would be as a Rose to a Cabernet. No ice or water needed here. There is not much on the back of the tongue and I would like a longer aftertaste. I'd love to taste this with a few years of age on it. A very nice opening effort for the first fruitless whiskey from the Leopold's and I am not disappointed.
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Re: Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby Mike » Thu May 05, 2011 10:03 pm

T Comp wrote:This is what I posted about the same whiskey from barrel # 3 back on November 20, 2010.

This, my first craft distilled purchase is from Barrel No. 3, 86 proof and was a little over the $30 mark on a shelf in Colorado last August. The label says it is pot distilled from open fermented sour mash. The neck tag calls it pre-prohibition style American Whiskey. The tag also contains more details on distillation which can also be found on their web site. I was drawn in the most by the stated barrelling proof of 98. There is no mention of age in the barrel but I'd guess less than a year and it's color is light. Todd Leopold is a member here and posted they were not using small barrels. He also relates that this is a bourbon though they chose not to label as such.

The nose and taste are true to one another. The first opening notes I get are a lot of yeast/fresh dough. Grain is there but in the background with a slight rye zing. Corn is more hidden to me but the sweetness is present, balanced and deliciously light brown sugar. Fruit is also there in strawberry and baking apple. Little to no alcohol flavors. This is a very light and delicate whiskey which for a former wine guy would be as a Rose to a Cabernet. No ice or water needed here. There is not much on the back of the tongue and I would like a longer aftertaste. I'd love to taste this with a few years of age on it. A very nice opening effort for the first fruitless whiskey from the Leopold's and I am not disappointed.


Sorry I missed your post, I did a search but failed to find any other posts on this product, don't know why. Seems we are pretty much in agreement. At least in my impaired state, I think there is a bit lacking in the finish, to my taste......... maybe lacking in tannins. But, I must withhold judgement until I can recover my senses. Thanks for your comments.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Fri May 06, 2011 6:56 pm

I think the lacking tannins may well be due to lower entry proof. This might be a feature instead of a flaw.

Perhaps it's been discussed here at BE, but I don't remember much with my whiskey addled brain regarding the factors involved in a long finish. Perhaps in the old days that wasn't much of an issue cause if you didn't have the taste of whiskey in your mouth you just took another sip. :love4:
Cheryl Lins - Proprietor and distiller, Delaware Phoenix Distillery, Walton, NY
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Re: Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby Leopold » Sat May 07, 2011 11:58 am

Glad you enjoyed it. But I'm more pleased that you, too, feel that we accomplished what we set out to accomplish with this iteration.

The lack of tannins is indeed intentional. I'm always pleased when people pick out the things we've done, even when they don't care for the result.

The attempt to distill and bottle a pre-prohibition style whiskey is more about having some creative fun than anything else. I have had quite a few samples of pre-prohibition whiskey, but obviously, they are all quite different. I was therefore more interested in recreating the process rather than focusing on an end result. Articles and old adverts show that it was common to find whiskies in those day that were 6 months old, 2 years old, and 4 years old. This bottling attempts to reflect the 6 month old version, where the grains are more dominant than the barrel.

So yes, this is one way to make it the old way. I'm sure we'll make others. But I'm sincerely glad that you appreciated the effort.
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Re: Leopold Bros American Small Batch Whiskey

Unread postby Mike » Sun May 08, 2011 6:37 pm

Now that I can smell again, and taste again, I am back at this whiskey. I find T Comp's notes to be quite accurate. I pick up a bit of freshly baked yeasty bread, some corn, a skosh of rye and some apples in the nose. The taste starts off almost cider like with crisp apples and yeast, then the rye kicks in. The finish is more robust with a fully working palate than it was before. There is a softness and delicacy that holds hands with the rye as the golden liquid clears the palate.

This is its own whiskey, a bit unlike any other I recall having. And that was the Leopold Bros intention all along. It has some brandy like qualities, some rye like qualities, but few bourbon like qualities.

One thing that makes it strikingly different from Canadian whiskies is that there is no malt sweetness as seems a prominent feature of many of the Canadians. I think T Comp nailed it with the yeast/dough as a key flavor, and it is one that, while holding pretty much through the tasting, is not offputting..........just gives the whiskey a distinguishing characteristic that may lack for a bit of sweetness.

I still do not completely trust my palate today because it itself seems too dry, so I may be missing some of the sweetness. Very good whiskey that is intriguing and has its own merits. I will come back another time when I am more sure of my own palate's willingness to engage this whiskey.

A throwaway note: One thing that occurs to me, bad palate nothwithstanding, is whether this recipe might once have been for a whiskey that was consumed with food. I could see this boy going with a hearty stew much as a bread would.

Post PS: I just had a sip of my favorite Cognac to test my palate.......... it is still completely unreliable...... got to be some of the meds still in my system. You can safely disregard most of what I wrote above.......... sorry about that. Even this wonderful Cognac is almost tasteless. What a waste! I feel like a one-eyed cat in a seafood store! If I had to live with this palate, I would be in despair!
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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