Have you ever heard of ocean ageing spirits? Actually, until this Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey sailed through my front door, I knew of only one distiller that ocean aged their spirit, and that was a cognac producer in France. I guess that plain old caves just aren’t good enough for these guys. The theory is that the gentle rolling wave action constantly keeps the spirit moving about the barrel thus increasing its contact with the oak barrel’s staves – thus, aging the spirit more quickly and uniformly. Pretty neat idea as long as a storm doesn’t come along and sink the ship, ouch.

Since 1987, Rogue Spirits has been producing award winning beers throughout Oregon and has expanded into California and Washington. They added spirits to their rather extensive offering of craft brews, and now also offer vodka, gin, whiskey, rye and rum. This Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey is distilled using the sweet wort from their Dead Guy Ale. They add proprietary Pacman distiller’s yeast and “free range” coastal water to the wort and let it ferment for seven days then double distill it in a copper whiskey still and then ocean age it in oak barrels for at least one year.



That sure is one hell of a lot of effort for a bottle of whiskey, so let’s see what all the fuss is about. Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey comes in a clear round bottle capped by a standard type beer bottle cap and has, affixed to its neck, a handy dandy old fashioned stopper to use once you’ve thrown the bottle cap away. The label shows a skeleton crouched over a barrel. The whiskey is a pale honey color and the overall effect is quite inviting. Based on the label alone, this could become the Halloween spirit you’ve been looking for, hee hee!

Okay, let’s get on with it. Then nose has the definite aroma of wort and probably should since they use five different types of malts. At first, it smelled more of beer rather than whiskey, but as it aired out in the snifter, the beer smell subsided and was replaced by a citrus aroma followed by the whiskey and then finally the oak. On the palate, it definitely tastes more like whiskey rather than beer and that whiskey flavor is mellow and smooth but lightly layered. Then the citrus and oak step forward followed by a light honey flavor. The finish is smooth, sweet and short but also smoky and oaky.

I love their use of five different malts, as it definitely takes this whiskey in its own direction. It faintly resembles some lighter scotches I’ve tasted yet tastes nothing like your average whiskey. It’s light and easy to sip and leaves me thinking as to what might develop if they aged it a bit longer? Other than that, it’s a very good whiskey with a unique taste profile all its own.

Dead Guy Whiskey weighs in at 40% ABV or 80 proof and is available in 750ml bottles for around $38.99 to $45.99


By George Brozowski