As we march further into the golden age of artisanal spirits, we find another example of outside-of-the-box thinking in Corsair Spirits, a micro-distillery making great stuff in two of the hottest centers of whiskey making, Bowling Green, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn.
Starting out in 2007 with red absinthe and barrel-aged gin, Corsair now makes a range of experimental whiskeys, including Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, a pilsner-style malt whiskey infused with elderflowers and hops, and whiskey made from quinoa and malted barley.
Creating triple-smoke whiskey
Founded by Nashville natives Darek Bell, who had trained at the Bruichladdich Distilling Academy in Scotland, and childhood friend, Andrew Webber, the question the two asked themselves before launching into the spirits world was, “What’s going to stand out?” Well, for one thing, smoke.
For its single-malt whiskey distilled in Kentucky, Triple Smoke Single Barrel, Corsair smokes three batches of malted barley over three kinds of wood — American cherry, Scottish peat and German beech — then blends them together to be distilled before putting the whole into charred oak barrels for aging.
The smoky flavor is incredibly distinct, like a solidly made Scotch whisky — think of the mighty single-malt, peated whisky Laphroaig — and is dying to be mixed with soda water for a classic Scotch and soda. It also makes for a fun base ingredient in less traditional whiskey-based cocktails, laying down a base of peatiness that blends interestingly with citrus and other fruity flavors.
Corsair’s triple-smoke whiskey has been winning awards right and left, starting with gold medals at the 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and 2010 International Review of Spirits Awards, and another gold medal in 2011 at the MicroLiquor Spirits Awards.
But Whisky Magazine laid down the most significant praise, naming Corsair 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year and Innovator of the Year, ahead of 300 other American whiskey makers, for simply and sublimely making “innovative whiskeys that defy categorization.”
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Created by Corsair
1½ ounce Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey or other peaty, smoky whiskey or Scotch
½ ounce Hum Botanical Spirit, a liqueur made with hibiscus, ginger, cardamom and kaffir lime
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce pineapple juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Chunk of pineapple (ideally, made smoky by grilling or soaking overnight in equal parts smoky whiskey and maple syrup or agave nectar
1. Combine all ingredients, shake with ice and strain into a tall ice-filled glass.
2. Garnish with pineapple chunk.
Photo: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes cocktail. Credit: Courtesy of Corsair Spirits.