Koval is a brand concerned with very few things, but they happen to be the right things. Small batches and single barrels, organic and local grain to glass distilling, and using only the best ingredients and cuts to make their whiskey, and it shows. Koval’s Single Barrel Bourbon is made up of the requisite 51% corn in the mash, but the remaining portion being given over to a grain you don’t see too often in whiskey, millet.
If you’re unfamiliar with millet it’s one of the oldest sustenance grains, like corn, but isn’t seen too much in spirits production in modern times outside of Asia. Both Koval’s corn and millet are sourced from an organic co-op in the Midwest which for many is a huge selling point, supporting local farmers and clean growing. After distillation Koval ages their bourbon in 30 gallon new charred oak barrels for less than four years, before bottling it at a hearty 94 Proof [47% ABV.] Since each batch is single barrel, what I may be tasting today, will likely be slightly different from what you will buy. That being said, I’ve had three different Koval bourbon batches and all have been excellent. Here’s my tasting notes:
Nose: Vanilla and custard with some slight smokey barrel char, very light and soft.
Taste: Starts very smooth and clean, cereal grains open up to smokey and leather notes that I traditionally associate with American single malts but far less pronounced, before tailing off to some sweet stone fruit notes, peach and apricot mostly.
Finish: Peppery and long lasting on the tongue, you really feel the slight over-proof character of this whiskey on the finish as it burns down your throat, but not in an unpleasant way. Cinnamon and cereal grains return and an undercurrent of that tobacco and leather single malt.
Koval is an excellent bourbon for the price, about $50 USD through most retailers. It’s a perfect example of a well thought out mash bill, aged in smaller barrels not for speed it seems, but for a better product. Outside of their bourbon Koval also makes a number of experimental mashes with oat, spelt, millet, rye, and other combinations. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on some soon!