What you see in the above photos is a whiskey which comes packaged in a bottle made to look like a bar of gold. Not surprisingly, the name of this whiskey is The Original Gold Bar Premium Blend, and it just so happens to hail from the city known for a little thing called the Gold Rush which occurred way back in 1849. This Gold Rush city is none other than San Francisco, and while the whiskey that comes in this very shiny packaging isn’t made there, it is finished there. Here’s the skinny on this whiskey taken directly from the Gold Bar Whiskey website:
Award-winning Gold Bar blended American whiskey finished in California casks is wine barrel finished in French oak from the idyllic Napa Valley with a mash bill of three quality grains: 88% corn, 9% rye, and 3% barley. Finished in the Golden State, Gold Bar Whiskey is matured outside, by the sea in the San Francisco Bay. Outstandingly smooth and versatile, the result is a unique modern expression on a traditional American blend.
As a symbol of good luck and prosperity, a solid brass coin is pressed into the front of each bottle of premium Gold Bar. Illustrated by a renowned American artisty, the signature removable “Lady of Fortune” coin is individually minted at America’s oldest private mint. Each uniquely numbered bottle is a true work of art.
The makers of Gold Bar Whiskey sure seem to have gone to great lengths to create what we hope is a yummy elixir. Let’s find out if the whiskey in this flashy bottle was worth all that effort.
- Appearance: Golden honey color that looks clean, crisp and almost sparkling in our Glencairns.
- ABV: 40%
- Limpd: Sweet, grainy and a bit herbally. You pick up a little bit of the rye sharpness, some caramel, chalk (thanks to Sister Mary Theresa from my Catholic elementary school days and many an afternoon spent cleaning erasers for this memory. God bless you, Sister! Wherever you are), and tea.
- G-LO: Quite the mix of aromas. Smells kinda spicy with cinnamon, clove, and some other baking spices. Also getting a little leather and perhaps some grapey mustiness too.
- Limpd: Medium mouthfeel with a lot of sweetness up front. Mid-palate, there are some herbal notes, some syrupy sugars and a little bit of cinnamon spice. It really doesn’t have enough heat to clearly identify it as a whiskey. It had a cordial quality to it. Not overly powerful, not much heat in the finish, just easy drinking.
- G-LO: The mouthfeel is kind of watery. Pretty spicy at the onset with a good bit of cinnamon heat along with a bit of black pepper. Some sweet sugar in the middle, but the heat persists. A bit of nuttiness shows up as you approach the finish to go with the cinnamony pepperiness which lingers in the aftertaste for quite awhile. Interestingly enough, I never picked up any of that wine cask influence that I detected in the nose. Perhaps it was just the power of suggestion coming through since I read about the wine cask finishing just before taking my tasting notes.
Limpd: I was so happy to try this as the packaging, while hokey to some, is right in my wheel house. So pretty; so shiny! However, I was a little surprised that the top is not a corked stopper but a snap-off topper that reveals a twist-off cap. If you want to play on the gold bar theme and make the packaging seem rich and luxurious, you need to include a cork. I can’t help but feel robbed of that oh so sweet “POP!” followed by the “Glug, glug, glug…”. Okay, enough about the pretty shiny things…
The whisky itself left me a little meh. With more time in the barrel and/or maybe a higher ABV, this could be a special dram. As it stands now, it finishes like a better-than-average cordial. Could be a nice digestif!
G-LO: Before I get to my thoughts about the pretty shiny packaging, I found Gold Bar Whiskey to be just ok overall. While a mostly easy drinking dram, it’s lacking in depth and multi-dimensionality. Some richer, darker sugary flavors would have been nice to counter balance all of that spice. And given that this stuff costs $50/bottle, it’s a little steep for what it is.
As far as the packaging goes, while I was at first quite mesmerized by the shimmery gold surface, shiny brass coin (it’s collectible!), and unique shape of the bottle…
…the more time I spent studying it, the more I started to dislike it. There’s only one word to describe it, and that word is cheesy.
It comes across as something that a Bond villain would serve to everyone’s favorite MI6 operative before trying to murder him via some lame and incredibly overcomplicated assassination attempt. You know, something like this:
Or maybe it’s something that Russsian mobsters in a gansgter film would drink instead of their usual ice cold shots of Vodka whenever they felt like classing it up a bit.
Better yet, this is DEFINITELY something that our teatotaling POTUS would serve to his guests, since you know, he REALLY, REALLY likes things that are painted gold.
The truth is that I would have forgiven the makers of Gold Bar Whiskey for the over-the-top, faux-gilded bottle had it not been for the frustrating to open bottle topper and cheap metal screw-top that was jammed into that bottle topper which looks exactly like this:
We all know that I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but more often than not, the elevator makes it to the top floor when libation time rolls around, and I am usually quite capable of cracking open a bottle of whiskey. Not so this time around! I was so confounded by this bottle that I needed a YouTube video to figure out how to get at the whiskey.
If you’re going to go to all this trouble to create a unique and eye catching bottle that will stand out amongst the HUNDREDS of bottles that line the liquor store shelves, at the very least you could make it easy to open, because if you can’t easily get at what’s inside the bottle, then what’s the point? And if you’re not going to use cork as a bottle stopper, at the very least you should go the Japanese route and use a well made, plastic screw top. I’m sure the fine folks at Suntory will gladly sell you some.