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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.