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Mellow Corn

Average score from 3 reviews and 7 ratings 77

Mellow Corn

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Mellow Corn

I've been feeling too chicken to open up and review a pricey bottle.

Enter Mellow Corn, a Kentucky Straight Corn Whiskey, available for as little as $10 in this great land, and for a mere $14 in Michigan. It's a rare find on store shelves for some reason. Retailers probably think it's too weird to sell, and they're probably right. The bright yellow label is as kitschy as an Elvis costume, and the mash bill sounds wrong. Here are my impressions:

It's an unusual golden hue, very light and with a pure yellow tinge.

On the nose, it's very weak at first. All I get initially is sweet and stinging alcohol. Later, it develops a certain complexity: white wine, malt, cream, honey, light fruit, and even a bit of grassiness.

When I take a sip, it knocks me back in my chair. The alcoholic power is like a little bomb exploding on my tongue, with a corny sweetness watching in the background. There's a bit of pepper in the finish and it vanishes very quickly, leaving zero bitterness and a friendly impression.

Further nosing is still more pleasant, with a creamy sweetness pushing forward and developing into peaches in milk, or perhaps a woman's peach-scented lotion. It really is a surprisingly good nose, testifying to a quality aging process.

Further tasting is a challenge. I can't remember whiskey ever bringing tears to my eyes, but this stuff does. It goes off like a stick of TNT. Once my pallet adjusts to the high octane, I pick up on the good body of the whiskey; it is pleasantly viscous and full of sophomoric personality on the tongue. It's unruly but winsome.

Water doesn't help the nose, apart from reducing the alcoholic pinch. On the tongue, water tames it and defuses the TNT, leaving behind a smoothly flowing and corny sweetness that is rather good, if rather simple.

For what Mellow Corn offers, it strikes me as a better bargain than any of the cheap bourbons. For example, I would put it above Evan Williams black label. It is so unlike bourbon that I would sooner compare it to a young scotch, yet it's not really like either.

Hi Victor, I saw your review of the same whiskey. For some reason my palate skips over the oakey notes you mentioned. And I agree, those who claim they can taste an overwhelming wave of corn are deluding themselves a bit. Jim Murray supposedly said that Mellow Corn is oily enough to fry eggs in, but I don't really get that either.

Well we can agree you don't "get" this straight corn whiskey and a bonded one at that (4 years, 100 proof). It is well to keep in mind that spirits much over 46% really need the addition of water to properly evaluate. Sure you can try to be a big bad bear and bear the consequences, but the addition of a modest amount of distilled water should result in a completely different experience.


Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. of Louisville, Kentucky, makes the majority of the commercially available US Corn whiskeys. Corn whiskies, by US Federal law, must be made from a mashbill of at least 80% corn. In practice, the other up to 20% will almost always be comprised totally of malted barley, because there is NO WAY that you will taste the corn if you add significant amounts of either rye or wheat. These whiskeys are almost always sold unaged. Mellow Corn is a Heaven Hill product which is sold Bottled in Bond, which means, among other things, that it is at least 4 years old and sold at 100 proof/50% ABV. Since there is no separate age statement, this whiskey is assumed to be approximately 4 years old

Nose: moderately strong intensity, fragrant,a little floral, honey, vanilla, caramel,a hint of sour corn mash

Taste: there is some corn flavour here, but after only four years in wood, it is the wood that is the strongest flavouring in what I am tasting-- by far. Lots of vanilla, caramel, some honey, and yes, a backdrop of Corn

Finish: moderate in length, fading out to a pleasant sweetness, which still has a lot of the wood flavours present

Balance: I went in search of the flavour of corn, somewhat mellowed compared to the unaged White Dog version. What I found was something that, upon reflection, is not too surprising to me: the flavour of Corn is so subtle that every other flavour factor will dominate it. In the case of this 4 year old Mellow Corn Whiskey, the corn flavour is no match for the oak in which it is aged. This is pleasant enough whiskey to drink, but what you get is a wood profile-- like a bourbon without the flavour, i.e. flavouring grain: rye or wheat. I think that you have to go far out of your way to sip this and say "This tastes like Corn!!" Corn is a fragile flower whose flavour cannot hold up on its own except under hot-house conditions

As a reviewer, I am well aware we can't hit every one out of the park. Sometimes we're left swinging at hot air and must make that head down shuffle back to the bench.

I couldn't disagree more with this review, and I'm not alone. Those who care to can survey the net (at I do, but only after I've reviewed a spirit). The consensus does indeed find the corn, the spice, but oak? Not really. What gives this review away is the observation "...like a bourbon without the flavour, i.e. flavouring grain: rye or wheat."

News flash! It IS a bourbon without the rye or wheat, specifically it is a corn whiskey, a straight one at that, and even further bonded. Heaven Hill saves its very best used oak for this one. The problem - and this reviewer is no exception - is that corn whiskey is simply not that popular, and much of what's out there is not straight and not bonded.

In truth Mellow Corn is one of the best of its genre. It needs to reviewed for what it is, not what it isn't. No worries, you'll get another at bat soon enough...

Elegant as always, @Victor!


this is in our Grains tasting.

Due to the abundance of Corn in the US, American whiskey was traditionally made with a high corn content. By definition, corn whiskey must be made of at least 81% corn. In addition, corn whisky does not require aging but if matured, the barrels must be either virgin oak or used – they cannot be new and charred or toasted as with bourbon production. This is the style of whiskey most usually associated with moonshine.

Mellow Corn is made by the Heaven Hill. It is actually four years old, aged in ex-bourbon casks, which has taken off some of the rough edges associated with corn whiskey and added a touch of spice. It is a simple, sweet whisky that is very reasonably priced (around £21 for 750ml from online retailers).

Dominic says: "The softest of starts, this is the whiskey equivalent of a big, soft, shapeless cushion. Creamier and flabbier than bourbon, nonetheless it has a bourbon-lite soft vanilla, candy and caramel cocktail at its core. Without the lengthy and intense influence of new and charred oak, there is little in the way of tannin and spice to give the whiskey shape, and it tails away sweetly and pleasantly"

Combined notes (and scores) Nose: acetone, violets, Demerara sugar. Taste: gentle at first, quite nutty, slightly perfumed. Finish: woody spice and assertive at end.

To a hammer everything looks like a nail. The problem with bourbon lovers like this one who criticize this amazingly harmonious and well-aged corn whiskey based on criterion (new charred oak) that apply only to bourbon. As a reviewer I find it essential to compare like spirits. Thus comparing a bourbon to a single male to a straight corn, bonded whiskey is a foole's errand.

It can't and shouldn't be done. This is one of the best straight corn whiskies on the market, and a bargain it is.

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