Craft cocktail makers across the United States recently incorporated Mellow Corn into their bars and liquor cabinets. Few could resist the corn whiskey’s perfect storm of hip, niche, and nostalgic appeal.
Most people outside Kentucky are unfamiliar with the obscure whiskey with the retro label. But with no prior hoopla, Heaven Hill Distillery has produced Mellow Corn for more than 70 years. Unlike most corn whiskeys, which tend to be raw, unaged moonshine, Mellow Corn is aged at least four years. However, since it doesn’t age in new, charred-oak barrels, as bourbon does, it lacks the classic Kentucky spirit’s dark caramel flavor and hue. Instead, Mellow Corn’s four years of aging yields a more golden-yellow color.
Expectedly, drinkers find it less nuanced, with fewer spiced notes than bourbon. But hey, it’s $15. Plus, it can make dairy-based cocktails taste like cereal milk. Cheers to that.
Need to Know
Corn also features prominently in bourbon, just not to the degree in corn whiskey. While bourbon's mash must be at least 51 percent corn, corn whiskey's must be 80 percent.