Boldly going where everyone else probably has the good sense not to go. I saw this bottle on the bottom shelf at Safeway not too long ago with a sale sticker reading “$5.99”. Six dollars for a bottle of whiskey. One wonders if you could buy an empty glass bottle for that kind of money. Also, and maybe this is just me, but it seems a little sociopathic to sell 80 proof liquor for six bucks. But what the hell, I had to buy it, for the cost of a pint of beer, why not. At the very least I figured I could use it as wood stripper or silver polish around the mansion.
So where does 75 South come from? The front label gave me this to go on: “This blended whisky was created from the finest ingredients. Our traditional process of compounding superior flavors is the pride of the South and promises to deliver a robust, rare and exceptional experience.” The back label gave me this vital information “aged for a minimum of 36 months.” I’ve gotten more information from greeting cards. I’m guessing the 75 in 75 South refers to the Interstate highway, though why a whiskey would reference a highway that runs from Sault Saint Marie to Fort Lauderdale is beyond me. It does run through Kentucky, I guess. Still…”pride of the South”, that’s a bit of a stretch. No further info on those “finest ingredients”, I suppose that’s all relative. I wonder if their “traditional process” might be a different one than the usual malt-distill-age-bottle process. Though it says it’s aged for a minimum of 36 months, it doesn’t really say what it was aged in. Steel tanks? Pickle jars? Leather flagons? Ancient Greek Amphoras? At this point it’s anyone’s guess. In any case, while I can’t say the experience was robust, it was rare, hopefully, and in one sense of the word, exceptional. A little further digging revealed that the brand is owned by Safeway and this, the pride of the South, was bottled in Loma Linda, CA, the new epicenter in the nascent non-craft distilling movement.
The Nose: Not as bad as I expected, just the perfunctory vanilla, caramel, orange thing almost as if it were infused with “real bourbon” flavor. It’s a really pretty thin nose, though, in fact, in the time it took me to type the first sentence, the bourbon flavor thing disappeared and left me with the smell of sugar. Oh, and nail polish remover. Strange…I wonder where that bourbon smell went?
The Palate: Sweet and harsh, tho’ less harsh than I was bracing myself for. The entry is a little syrupy. Did I mention Sweet? Faint notes of Smarties candies and vanilla, but mostly it’s just grainy. I’m not sure what grainy, there’s probably a little rye in there, and corn, but flavor wise, it’s just hot alcohol grain. Did I mention sweet?
The Finish: It kind of made me make a face and cough. Not horrible, just not that good.
Thoughts: Well, I can still see, if that’s any consolation. Ok, honestly, it’s easy to make fun of a whiskey called “75 South” that invokes the “pride of the South” on the label but was bottled in California and is only sold at Safeway for under $6, but I’ve had worse (the Arrow brand whiskey from the More-4 in River Falls, WI comes to mind). It was pretty simple, almost empty flavor-wise but not nearly as gag-inducing as I was expecting. That said, I wouldn’t recommend this for…well, I guess I just wouldn’t recommend this. Maybe I’ll use it for infusing or cleaning…or something.
75 South Blended Whiskey, American (of course)
* scores of 66.6 simply reflect the most hellish whiskies and despite their numerical appearance, do not sequentially fall between 66 and 67 in terms of “quality”. They stand purely alone.