White Dog, White Lightning, Moonshine – it seems like everyone is making some sort of clear whiskey and Kansas Clean Distilled Whiskey seems to be one of the more “interesting” on the market.
The Kansas website say’s their product is a “new whiskey for new whiskey drinkers” which I find a bit odd since most of the folks I host monthly whiskey tastings for are completely new to whiskey are already enjoying bourbon and aged whiskeys. I purchased this bottle because of all the negative press floating around about it. I like to try things myself before jumping on the band wagon one way or another however, this bottle leaves me feeling a little perplexed on whether it even warrants a review on my site (since it’s dedicated to reviewing whiskey) because well, I’m not sure it deserves to have the word “whiskey” on the bottle except for a slight technicality. Let me explain…
You see Kansas Clean Distilled Whiskey is only whiskey because it falls into the “Spirit Whiskey” category. A Spirit Whiskey (as I understand it) is a blend of 5% whiskey and 95% grain neutral spirit (GNS) otherwise known as Vodka. From what I’ve read, Spirit Whiskey was popular after Prohibition because there was so little whiskey in stock that producers tried to stretch it out by adding only a bit of aged whiskey to their large amounts of grain spirit. While this lasted for some time, eventually the two spirits went back to being properly produced and sold separately.
The site and the marketing behind this product is done by Fabulous American Beverages (FAB for short) continues to poke fun at everyone who doesn’t resemble someone out of a stock art image search for “trendy hipsters”. Especially at those who came before us and pioneered the whiskey culture to make it what it is today. One of the interviews I read online with the founder Paul Goldman had this quote about why he decided to pursue this product “I was in London at a bar with my wife. She ordered a vodka drink and I suggested she be more daring and order a whiskey. She replied that whiskey was for old men and it wasn’t cool. That was my call to action.” Personally, I don’t order drinks based on what I think would look cool – but hey, everything about their marketing is centered on looking “cool”.
So where does this leave us?
It leaves us with a spirit company making fun of traditional whiskey culture all while trying to leverage the name, history and popularity to be included in a genre of spirits enjoyed around the world in hopes to sell a few bottles of ever so slightly “whiskey flavored” Vodka.
If they were to take the word “whiskey” off the bottle they might just have a viable product that people would buy to make cocktails – a kind of “I don’t care what alcohol you use just as long as I get tipsy and don’t taste the booze” type of drinker’s dream drink. However, for $30ish dollars I imagine that most bartenders or home bars would just stick to their favorite mixing vodka and save some money.
In regards to the taste, it tastes similar to a locally made Vanilla Bean Vodka I recently tried but nothing like whiskey. My favorite quote from a recent whiskey tasting was that this was a “sorority whiskey” and that my friends is all you need to know.