I’m listening to a lot of G-Eazy right now, the Bay Area rapper who was once famously referred to as “the James Dean of hip-hop,” not because he’s on my most played list (there’s a whole lot of talk about having sex with other people’s girlfriends that I simply can’t relate to), but because he’s the creative director behind Stillhouse Spirits, which makes a handful of whiskies in Tennessee, from an unaged recipe to a far out mint chocolate chip-flavored whiskey. All of them are packaged in these slick cans, which look like a cross between an old school Stanley flask and a gas can. I’m a sucker for good packaging, so I’m automatically intrigued when I see the can of Stillhouse Black Bourbon, which is “mellowed” on coffee beans.
Apparently, this is the first bourbon to be rested on coffee beans. I’m not sure how the world produced a mint chocolate whiskey before a coffee bourbon, but whatever. No judgments here. Get your mint chocolate chip buzz on if that’s what you want.
Anyway, back to this particular can of whiskey. Stillhouse took a traditional Tennessee approach to whiskey, using mostly corn in the mash bill, aging it in charred new oak barrels before charcoal filtering it to provide a distinctly mellow taste. Then they rested the bourbon on coffee beans (apparently G-Eazy is a coffee fanatic who grinds his own beans every morning). Because of that last step, I expected to find coffee characteristics in every corner of this whiskey, but that’s not the case at all. This is a mellow bourbon first, cup of Starbucks second.
On the nose and in the sip, Stillhouse Black Bourbon hits all of the bourbon highlights: caramel, vanilla, a bit of tannic oak…Because of the charcoal filtering, it has a soft, round mouthfeel and is extremely easy to drink neat. Stillhouse put their Original Whiskey in a stainless steel can so you could refrigerate it and serve it cold as a shot, but Stillhouse Black works well at room temperature.
The coffee enters the picture in an interesting way, giving the bourbon a smoky, almost peaty characteristic. Add a chunk of ice and that smoke becomes even more pronounced. You could easily trick yourself into thinking you’re drinking a single malt instead of a bourbon.
That’s not to say Stillhouse is “precious” or refined in anyway. Make no mistake, this is a bourbon built for drinking, not sipping. Search Instagram and you’ll find youngsters drinking Stillhouse Original straight from the can through a straw. I feel obligated to warn you that drinking whiskey straight from the can through a straw is a quick way to wind up naked and in jail. Or so I’ve heard. But the message is clear: Stillhouse makes fun whiskies, and Stillhouse Black hits all the fun notes: It’s easy to drink and the can will look good on your bar cart. I recommend pairing it with G-Eazy’s These Things Happen, just to complete the package.
Distillery: Stillhouse Spirits
Location: Cumberland, Tennessee
Availability: 750 ML cans are available now, 375 ML cans releasing this summer