“Our heart and passion has always been whiskey.”
Well, us too.
Those were the words of Middle West Spirits’ co-founder Ryan Lang, as he prepared a pour of their Oloroso Wheat, a new special whiskey finished in a cream sherry cask—made all the more special by the fact that my taste is one of just 16 barrels being released in this winter batch.
Oloroso, which means “fragrant” in Spanish, is a 102-proof spirit—the highest ABV of any aged product available on the market. It’s debut has been a long time in the making, as last year’s government shutdown delayed it by nearly a year.
It’s more than worth the wait.
In taking their red winter wheat whiskey, aging it for nearly two and a half years in new lightly roasted, lightly charred oak barrels, the team at MWS has produced a wonderfully balanced product—not too tannic, and one that isn’t over-oaked. Wheat whiskey is quite delicate, so it takes a keen taster to see if it has become over-wooded. Once it reached its desired tasting notes of light vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon, it was then flipped to the sun-drenched sherry cask to round out the flavor profile, a finishing process that takes about two years. At Middle West, you can see the casks next to the new oak barrels, and like barrels forgotten in time, they secrete pure sugar through the cracks. When lifted by a finger and smelled, the aroma matches the the finished product in your glass.
That robust aroma starts changing character and warmth upon the pour. On the first visit to the nose, there is the scent of light alcohol, met with the fragrant warmth of raisin, black cherry, and the soft subtle vanilla that OYO wheat whiskey is already known for, finishing with a vibrant rush of caramel. Tasting it allows the raisin to come reach full effect, matched with a pleasant chest warmth and a slow but welcome burn as the vanilla and caramel carry the subtle hints of dark chocolate and black cherry to the palate with a soft, mild finish.
The OYO logo is still at the forefront for this new product, but Middle West chose to use a classic scotch bottle to represent the heritage of this spirit, in that it was built like a single malt. Founder Brady Konya said that the change in appearance will add a nice touch as the Double Cask Collection family continues to grow.
If this is any indication of what the new products in the collection are going to be like, we are in for a real treat.
– Joshua Gandee