No Mom, I don’t have a drinking problem: Mellow Corn corn whiskey

November 20, 2020

Author’s note: I get my information by constantly asking my managers at Gordon’s questions while I’m stocking shelves, making pull lists or counting my drawer. I don’t know where they get their information and I don’t particularly care. They have certifications and adult responsibilities and if I trust them as experts in their fields, you should too.

A banjo gently twangs in the background as a warm dusk breeze rustles the bluegrass that stretches out before you. It’s been a long day and you need a drink, but money’s been tight, with the Great Depression and your adamant refusal to leave May’s Lick, KY. Your family’s been there for generations and no measly Dust Bowl is going to change that. Naturally, you grab what you have: Mellow Corn ($16.99 per liter at Gordon’s). It’s no fancy sippin’ whiskey like a Pappy Van Winkle or a Jefferson’s Select, but it’ll get the job done.

Before I continue, I should probably clear some things up about this unbelievably awful-looking spirit, since it’s a whiskey that most of the people reading this column probably haven’t heard about unless they’ve talked to me (a huge Mellow Corn stan).

CORN WHISKEY FAQs:

Q: What is corn whiskey?

A: Corn whiskey is a whiskey whose mash bill is at least 80 percent corn, bottled at no less than 80 proof and barreled (when it goes from distilling to being aged in the barrel) at no more than 125 proof. If it is aged in a barrel (which is not a legal requirement), the barrel cannot be freshly charred (it must be either uncharred or previously used, otherwise it would be classified as bourbon). In practice, it’s a fairly similar whiskey in character to bourbon, albeit with less wood character and a significantly lower price point.

Q: What’s that big green 100 on the neck?

A: That’s there to show that it’s 100 proof, or 50 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

Q: What does “Bottled in Bond” mean, and should it worry me?

A: “Bottled in Bond” means that all the distillate in the barrels comes from one growing season, is aged for a minimum of four years in a government bonded (or controlled) warehouse and is bottled under government supervision. Basically, it’s the government signing off on the whiskey being quality-controlled, and if anything, is generally the mark of a higher quality whiskey.

Q: If this stuff is so high quality, why is it so cheap?

A: It’s cheap for two reasons. Reason one: corn is cheap and this particular juice is 90 percent corn. Reason two: I think the bottle is far too ugly to garner any actual hype and marketing traction, which relegates it to being a cult favorite. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that you have a vague idea of what we’re getting into, let’s get to the actual whiskey! If you want to replicate this tasting, I used a tulip glass I got from Global Thrift for 99 cents because it was the only clean glassware in the house that I felt comfortable putting this whiskey in.

Nose:

Very sweet, boozy, maybe a hint of orange? I don’t know if it was orange per se, but almost like if orange wasn’t a citrus and was less acidic.

Hooooooo boy this is boozy you can tell STRAIGHT AWAY this is 100 proof.

Palate:

WHEW

YEEHAW
WOW

OH MAN THIS IS STRONG STRAIGHT

Also contained hints of burnt/deeply caramelized fruit, the Great Depression and oak? I don’t know if oak is appropriate here but it sure did taste like I was licking the inside of a used bourbon barrel, which was… an experience, to say the least.

The Great Depression

Finish:

Ohohohoho no

Jesus

My mouth is incredibly moist right now, there’s slobber everywhere.

Outside of the fact that I’m a weak rookie and alcohol layperson, the finish was light, sweet and vaguely floral.

I know my tasting notes don’t necessarily do this whiskey justice, but it’s a banger and you can’t do much better at this price point. I don’t recommend drinking it straight, but if you’re used to higher proof drinks this might not be as harsh for you as it was for me. I am but one man, a mere child by drinking standards and my palate and tolerance for higher proof juice still leave much to be desired. I HIGHLY recommend drinking this with a lighter ginger beer. The mild spiciness and earthiness of the ginger beer play really nicely with the lighter sweetness and floral character of the Mellow Corn. As an additional bonus, the bottle is so frightening to the average drinker that your roommates probably won’t steal any of this from you for any reason. Their loss.

Editor’s Note: This is part three of the series “No Mom, I don’t have a drinking problem.”

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