Stolen. Just the name inspires curiosity. Is it really Stolen? Who is it Stolen from? It’s such a simple name but honestly I think it’s marketing genius. I don’t know about you but I have seen massive amounts of pretty awesome looking social media posts for this company for a little while now starting with their Stolen Smoked Rum and now Stolen 11 year Whiskey. Since it is a relatively new company I was very interested and the awesome folks over there were kind enough to provide me with a generous sized sample. This sample was provided courtesy of Stolen Spirits but that did not influence the contents of this article.
Stolen Whiskey is a single grain corn whiskey distilled by MGP in Indiana and then aged for 11 years in used bourbon barrels. Once it comes to age it is then finished with smoked oak barrel staves for approximately 4-6 weeks in order to add further smoke and wood characteristics. Once it passes multiple taste tests to ensure the prefect amount of flavor was imparted it is dumped and bottled at 92 proof. It is important to note that this is NOT a bourbon, as we know bourbon must be aged in new charred oak barrels and this is aged in used barrels. Normally we prefer to stick with bourbon but we are a sucker for good marketing and Stolen absolutely kills it in that area, hopefully this “Stolen” whiskey lives up to their name!
Stolen Spirits is pretty transparent about being a NDP (non-distilling producer) and I’d even say the name of the whiskey itself reflects this. Similar to how Smooth Ambler calls their NDP Old Scout because they “scout” good barrels to source, Stolen Whiskey is “stolen” from another distillery. In modern whiskey times it’s rare to see transparency and for those of us who actually pay attention to these things it’s a nice change of pace. An 11-year age statement is also pretty impressive for a newer brand to bring to the table. I’m sure many of you remember the drama with Elijah Craig removing their 12-year age statement and Knob Creek getting rid of their 9-year age statement in the recent years. I don’t know of another corn whiskey that is aged anywhere near this long. It’s finally time for my favorite part of writing these things: The tasting.
The first thing you notice with the whiskey is the color: It’s a light straw or honey color that flakes into gold where it comes in contact with the glass. It’s lighter in color than I expected for being 11 years old, I would guess it has a high barrel entry proof and needs a little extra water to bring it down to 92 proof. It’s also much oilier than I expected with long legs that drip down the sides of your glass. I would venture to say that’s because of the high corn content.
Moving on to the nose of the whiskey, I expected it to come across strong and harsh with lots of smoke and wood and the typical corn sweetness but once again I find myself surprised. It does have some corn sweetness and smoke to it but it’s very soft. I get notes of granny smith apples and cinnamon that fades to what I’m going to call gingerbread. The nose does have some astringency to it from the alcohol but it’s not overpowering or too unpleasant.
Time to finally take a drink, I choose to enjoy this neat in a Glencairn glass and it was open and airing out for about 15-20 minutes before I tasted it. The first thing you taste it the sweetness from the corn and the sharp oak notes on your tongue. Swish it around your mouth a little and you should be able to pick up some dark chocolate and some sort of stone fruit like peaches or nectarines. Once again I am pleasantly surprised by how oily it is, it coats your mouth leaving you wanting to keep drinking. I an unsure on the filtering process but I am going to guess it’s minimal based on how oily it is.
The finish is relatively short and uneventful compared to the rest of the whiskey, it starts with a sweetness I would relate to raisins and then evolves with hints of rich black coffee as you swallow. It leaves a bitter licorice flavor in my mouth that almost reminds me of a Speyside scotch, similar to a Glenlivet 12 year.
All in all it isn’t something I would normally seek out but it is quite enjoyable. I went into this expecting to dislike Stolen Whiskey but I’ve got admit it’s pretty good stuff & by far the best corn whiskey I have ever had. It’s not as overpowering as most corn whiskey tends to be, I think the 11 years in the barrel and the added finishing really help to add complexity. I enjoy this neat but I think it would really shine in a Manhattan; the sweetness from the Vermouth and the smokiness of Stolen would pair well together. To me Stolen Whiskey lives in that grey area between scotch and bourbon so if you’re a scotch fan looking to get into bourbon or a bourbon fan looking to get into scotch I would recommend giving this a try. Stolen 11 Year Whiskey retails for about $40 and for that price I would definitely say give it a shot and expand your palate.