I’m not that big into liquor or liqueur. I enjoy a sip of my husband Ryan’s G&Ts now and then, and I might try a chilled cocktail when it’s warm. But my go-to drinks tend to be either beer or wine.
It’s a shame, too, because we’ve got so many frickin’ awesome distilleries right here in the Triad. There’s Sutler’s Spirit for an amazing juniper gin. Broad Branch Distillery does a mean white whiskey, Nightlab 1.0, and a blueberry version called Smashing Violet. Fainting Goat Spirits makes a killer cardamom-spiced gin, Emulsion, which is like no gin you’ve ever tasted, although their popularity rests on the classic Tiny Cat vodka. I have yet to try Old Nick Williams (I was sick over opening weekend last year, and I had tickets!), so it’s still on my list.
You can find most, if not all, of these products at your local Triad ABC store, but there are a couple new ones that haven’t hit all the shelves yet. Both Fainting Goat Spirits and Broad Branch Distillery put out aged whiskeys literally within a week of each other last month, and I was excited to try them.
In fact, when my family went on a Tap Hopper tour for my birthday in 2016 and we stopped by Fainting Goat Spirits, I immediately perked up at their plans for an aged whiskey and a bourbon (due out in 2020). And when Ryan and I did a tasting & tour at Broad Branch Distillery when I wrote the Triad City Beat Barstool column, I had stars in my eyes at the mention of a rye whiskey and some other barreled experiments, like apple brandy.
Okay, okay. I lied before. I also like whiskey a lot. It’s not my go-to drink in general, but definitely my favorite liquor. And it’s gotta be neat, with no added water or lemon or whatever. Don’t let even a sliver of ice touch my perfectly golden snifter of magic.
Still, I don’t want to drink whiskey all the time. It’s reserved for Very Special Occasions, like snow days or nights out with friends. I still haven’t been to 913 Whiskey Bar in Greensboro, but The Trophy Room in Winston-Salem has a decent bar list, friendly bartenders, and a seductive atmosphere.
Both are overshadowed, though, by Jack Rose Dining Saloon in Washington, D.C. If you know whiskey, there’s no comparison. Jack Rose is known for their library-sized offerings of whiskey — literally, thousands of bottles. When we went with friends last month, we wondered aloud how long the four of us would be able to sustain ourselves off their liquor during an apocalypse. 10-15 years was my guess, and that’s if we were drinking every day.
Their whiskey flights are served with a small dropper of distilled water, which apparently helps the “bouquet blossom and the flavor open up,” according to Ryan. So when we sat down to try the new Fainting Goat Spirits C.B. Fisher’s and Broad Branch Distillery Nobilium, we set out all the accoutrements and did a proper tasting.
They’re totally different, by the way. C.B. Fisher’s is made with 100% malted barley and aged in American white oak barrels. Nobilium has a higher proof — 101.6 to Fisher’s 86.8 — and is a blend, rather than a single grain, aged in European oak. According to the label, it’s made with an “heirloom corn, rye, and malted barley mash, hops, LA sugars, and artesian Blue Ridge Mountain well water.”
However, both of them happen to mention something about giving a damn on their labels. In Broad Branch Distillery’s case, it’s the drinkers: “For discerning drinkers who give a damn. Like you.” For Fainting Goat Spirits, it’s the makers: “History made by hand by people who give a damn.”
Broad Branch Distillery – Nobilium
The word “nobilium” is Latin, meaning “noble,” “distinct,” or “celebrated.” That’s big talk for a whiskey that had me asking if I could eat pancakes with it.
The label says, “hints of maple, dried apple, and vanilla.” Not sure how long it was aged, but it’s got a complex, mature flavor. I smelled the maple right away because it smells sweet, and I could get the apple in the flavor. It’s not like anything I’ve tasted in a whiskey before, so I poured myself some more so I could sit with it.
We had to look up “No chill filtering,” and for non-peaty whiskies, it’s basically removing the cloudiness for cosmetic reasons. Also, for some reason, the label at the top notes the phase of the moon when the whiskey was first distilled — waning crescent, which is happens to be right now and is, in my view, the most beautiful of moon phases. That makes the bottle that much more endearing!
Fainting Goat Spirits – C.B. Fisher’s
A few months ago, I saw the call Andrew Norman (co-owner, distiller, and original Tiny Cat) put out on Facebook about a name for their new aged whiskey. They wanted something that ties it back to the area, to Greensboro’s history, and they came up with C.B. Fisher, some guy I know only from Fisher Park and the surrounding neighborhood of the same name.
You can read Fisher’s story on the label, but for now, let’s talk about the whiskey. This one smells exactly like the distillery, which isn’t a bad thing at all. I thought “grain to glass” was primarily a marketing thing, but this shows how wrong I was. If you want grain in a glass, this is it. 100% malted barley, remember.
Ryan summed it up well when he gave this whiskey a voice. It’s saying, “Fuck you, I’m a whiskey!”
The label says it tastes of “fresh peaches, warm vanilla and spiced honey.” I definitely get the vanilla upfront, and honey on the aftertaste, but the peaches are lost on me. I’m not used to drinking whiskey all the time, so both of these whiskeys felt a little harsh at the top of my mouth. Just need to drink more whiskey!
Greensboro ABC stores bought this one up quick, so it hasn’t made it to Forsyth County or other surrounding counties yet. You may still be able to get a bottle from the distillery itself in downtown Greensboro. Andrew says they’ll put out another batch in April and make it a regular thing come October, which is fitting since it’ll be my birthday and who’s gonna need some presents?!
Speaking of presents, you should enter to win a tour & tasting and some swag from Fainting Goat Spirits!
To qualify, “like” the Fainting Goat Spirits Facebook page and leave a comment on this blog post (Facebook comments will not qualify) by Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. Five winners will be selected at random from those who qualify. Each winner will receive TWO tickets for a free tour & tasting at Fainting Goat Spirits. Three of those five winners will get Fainting Goat Spirits swag, too. (Winners must contact the distillery to make arrangements for the tour and tasting, and must pick up their swag at the distillery.)
Winners will be contacted at the email address indicated in their blog post comment and will be announced in next Saturday’s blog post! Good luck!