Setting up a still and producing a product does not mean that someone has the necessary skills and expertise to make a quality spirit. Luckily, most craft distillers are committed craftsmen, people who take the art of distilling very seriously and work hard to produce products that will please the majority of spirits enthusiasts.
Rogue has opted for a product that is made cheaply, quickly, and with no eye towards quality control. To my palate, Rogue Dead Guy whiskey may simply be the worst whiskey ever made.
I had tried Rogue Dead Guy whiskey before and found it vile but decided to taste it again with an open mind after being questioned about it by a number of whiskey enthusiasts. Instead of forking over the $40 retail price, I walked over to a nearby tavern that carries Dead Guy whiskey to taste it there.
My first impression of the nose is that it has some sort of weird combination of fruits mixed together. Drinks writer Geoff Kleinman describes it as “strawberry banana Jolly Rancher.” I had described it as a fruit salad gone bad. There is clearly an artificial note here, almost something sickly sweet.
Body and Palate
On the palate, one would expect a whiskey aged for only a month to exhibit a youthful zestiness.
It should be bright, sweet and vigorous. Again, Dead Guy whiskey failed to impress.
Instead of displaying youthful vigor, this whiskey was harsh, one-dimensional and unbalanced. I did note a vegetal quality peeking through that makes me think that this whiskey was not cut correctly. To my palate, Dead Guy whiskey contains tails.
If I had to guess, I’d say that Dead Guy is only distilled once, leaving too many impurities in the final product. Most quality distillers distill at least twice to ensure only the best portion of the distillate makes it into the barrel.
Additionally, I could not notice much difference that one month of barrel aging made. If they are going to cut corners and put a shoddy product out the door as quickly as possible, why not bottle immediately?
At 80 proof, Dead Guy whiskey is surprisingly hot in the mouth. I’d describe the finish as harsh and unpleasant yet thankfully quick.
It Just Doesn't Work
While I like some of Rogue’s beer offerings, their Dead Guy whiskey is simply the worst whiskey I’ve ever tasted. At $40 a bottle, its priced like a premium product when what you are getting is simply amateurish.
Save your money on this one and look to better craft offerings for your whiskey. May I suggest something from Koval instead?
If gifted with a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy whiskey, it's best put to use as a paperweight or perhaps used to clean wounds. Whatever you do, don’t drink it expecting a quality whiskey experience. No recommendation.
About Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey
- Distilled from the same three malts used in the brand's Dead Guy Ale beer.
- Produced by Rogue Ales of Ashland, Oregon.
- 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)
- Retails for around $40/750ml bottle
Rogue also makes a variety of other spirits. We have not tasted any of them, so cannot tell you how they compare to the whiskey reviewed here.
- Oregon Single Malt Whiskey
- Rogue Farms Oregon Rye Whiskey
- Chipotle Whiskey
- Oregon Single Malt Vodka
- Vodka Bacon Maple Vodka
- Spruce Gin
- Pink Spruce Gin
- Dark Rum
- Hazelnut Spice Rum
Originally Published: April 30, 2010
Edited by Colleen Graham