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Having lived in the Kentucky area for more than 20 years, I have tasted many types of bourbon whiskey, from the low-cost Jim Beam to the middle-level Maker’s Mark and Woodford Reserve. On a recent visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, I was served Cleveland Whiskey, which was covered in a recent Newscripts (C&EN, May 2, page 40).
The flavor imparted was harsh and biting, with none of the smoky smoothness that comes from aging. Perhaps chemicals used during the bourbon whiskey’s aging process are getting into the spirit, because its makers have missed something during their analysis. When chemists evaluate alternate sources of raw materials, it is not usually the major components that provide the issue, but it is frequently a difference in a small residual material that is there or not there.
Cleveland Whiskey still has a long way to go to achieve a drinkable basic bourbon whiskey. Maybe it will be better off competing with specialty niche products that cannot be compared to the smooth amber flavor of a well-aged bourbon.
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