If you haven’t yet, read my review of Sons of Liberty’s Battle Cry, a very similar American single-malt whiskey made from a Belgian-style beer.
I was sent tasting samples of two single-malt American Whiskies (and a third, Hop-flavored whiskey, review upcoming!) by Jake at DPA (Thanks Jake!) from Rhode Island craft distillery Sons of Liberty. Like Battle Cry, Uprising is made from a real beer (a stout) and aged in new charred American oak barrels. I got to sample both the whisky and the wash (see review below).
Uprising is an American single malt whiskey distilled from a stout beer using classic American ale yeast and the traditional stout malts: Pale Malt, Dehusked Chocolate Malt, Crystal 45, Biscuit malts, and plain roasted barley. The beer is then double-distilled in Sons of Liberty’s 250 gallon pot still and aged for under two years in new charred American oak barrels that are “enhanced” with lightly toasted staves of French Oak (something they probably learned from Compass Box’s John Glaser). They use both 10 and 30 gallon barrels, probably to accelerate the oak influence (smaller barrels transfer oaky flavors more quickly than larger ones). The whiskey is then bottled at 40% ABV without chill filtration or added coloring.
My 375ml tasting bottle was bottle #662 from batch #7.
Nose: Drier than Battle Cry, with a brooding bitter dark chocolate note, dark roasted coffee, chocolate-covered cherries, but with less clarity in the cereal notes, which are limited to a hint of over-toasted bread.
Palate: Thick bodied. Again, heavy roasty notes of coffee and dark chocolate. Heavy dark bread (pumpernickel). Dusty. Toasted walnuts. After awhile, there’s a note of cinnamon and vanilla, like Mexican-style hot chocolate.
Finish: Medium-short. Crunchy dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, and a slight bitterness like strong brewed coffee. Fades quickly.
With Water: A few drops of water seem not to affect the aroma, but thin the palate. As with Battle Cry, the finish is a bit livelier, with a hint of that cherry coming through, but I wouldn’t bother with water with this one.
Overall: This is good, but not quite as successful (for me) as Battle Cry, which is better balanced. That said, Uprising is true to its roots, with very clear roasty notes of coffee and dark chocolate, just like you’d expect in a stout beer. There is not quite enough sweetness to balance the bitter, nor quite enough malty cereal notes or fruit to balance the heavy toast of the malt. I’m also missing the new oak, which is probably hiding beneath those coffee notes.
Bonus: Wash Tasting.
Surprisingly fruity, with a core of strawberry jam and cordial cherries. On top, a foamy froth of creamy latte and mocha. Not oppressively heavy, despite being a stout beer. On the finish, the bitter roast malt notes come to the fore, with those dark-roast coffee and baking chocolate flavors. The “chocolate-covered cherry” notes and the coffee definitely translate to the whisky, although I think that the Uprising single malt would be more successful if more of the fruit and sweet malt notes had survived distillation.
I’m intrigued by this, and by Battle Cry. After trying Pine Barrens Single Malt (which is distilled from Barleywine), I’ve felt that there’s definitely potential for whiskies distilled from “finished” beer. Of course, I’m sure it can backfire spectacularly, but the potential for seriously unique flavors captures my imagination.