Review: St. George Baller
9 out of 10. Would buy multiple bottles.
If it were a SMWS: “Smokey Bear the Pyromaniac”. Overview: Very different. Very delicious. Liquid campfire.
Bought for: $69
The Butte wildfire has been ongoing north of San Francisco (our sky looked like Armageddon the day after, with a eerie red sun and fog directly in SF city - and up north in Concord - which is still very far from ground Zero - you could clearly see particles of ash floating around like snow). It’s a major piece of news, and around 10-20% of the pedestrians in the city have been wearing flu masks in attempts to not inhale the air.
This may have biased our review toward tasting ash and campfire, but the whiskey itself is just not subtle. Rather, it’s more a coincidence that we happen to have selected to review this whiskey at the same time as the Butte County fires.
Nose: Umami, seaweed, lightly smoked Quaker oats, BBQ smoke
Palate: Mouthfeel is only describable as “Chewy”. Starts with dark plums, tobacco, smoke and ash - moves into beef jerky on the mid-palate, then more umami and savory seaweed before a long cool aftertaste of blue mint. There is last hit that catches you on the back of the throat of burnt wood chips and soot.
Overall, if you’re a whisky geek, you will love this. It’s savory and so very different.
100% American barley (mostly two-row pale malted barley, rest lightly roasted)
Aged 3-4 years in used bourbon casks and French oak wine casks before finished in casks that held umeshu (Japanese style of plum liqueur) that is also made by St. George
Filtered through maple charcoal
More about St. George and Baller:
Our review of the St. George distillery tour: a Willy Wonka factory for alcohol enthusiasts
Baller was developed with the goal of creating “the perfect base for a Japanese highball” (hence its name) and was originally created in collaboration with the Ramen Shop in Oakland
Also dubbed “a California take on the Japanese spin on Scotch whisky” by head distiller Lance Winters