Think you know Bourbon? Koval Single Barrel is likely to be the most unique Bourbon you have ever tasted.
Koval is the first small batch distillery in Chicago since the dark days of the prohibition era, and one of the leading craft distilleries in the US. It was founded in 2008 by Robert and Sonat Birnecker who abandoned their academic careers to follow their hearts. Growing up, Robert lived near Salzburg, Austria, and was immersed in a culture of small batch distilling, so perhaps this is destiny. For those of us who love great spirits, it is just good luck for us!
The distillery supports sustainable agriculture and is certified as both organic and kosher—there’ll be no outsourcing for these kids. In eight short years they have expanded their miracle-working to … geez, just about everything from Gin, to Whiskey, to Liqueurs, and a bunch of other fiddly things, all of them professionally crafted and tasty-good. In fact, they are rated as one of the top ten small-batch distilleries in the US.
We just LOVE the smell of innovation in the morning!
If you call yourself a Bourbon fan, you probably know that you can’t call it Bourbon unless you follow a bunch of rules. Fair enough. One of those rules is that Bourbon is at least 51% Corn. The rest is usually a chefs-choice of rye, barley, and wheat. But … the good folks at Koval had their legal team pour over the fine print, and—sure enough—it doesn’t HAVE to be rye, barley, and wheat. As long as you have the corn part right, the rest can be any other grain.
Anyway … Koval starts with corn and then finishes off the mash bill with millet and the result is unlike any other Bourbon we’ve tasted so far with a fruit-forward character that compliments the sweetness of the corn. Everything else is just how you want it … new oak casks, proper aging, etc. Some folks talk a good innovation game, but Koval brings the small-batch and single-barrel goods. If you are not intrigued yet, then someone broke your sense of wonder and we feel sorry for you.
Millet has been used to make distilled spirits in Nepal for more than a century. Traditional Nepalese “Whiskies” made with millet include Tongba (a steeped whiskey-like drink filtered through a special bamboo straw), Raksi (similar to a cross between Gin and Japanese Saki), and Chhaang (similar to beer and made with millet, rice, and/or barley).
Oooops. This bottle isn't on our current list of Home Bar Essentials... but it could be. Add it to your wish list and let us know you want it!
Ratings & Reviews
Member Reviews and Ratings of Koval Single Barrel Bourbon
This was my favorite in the tasting box, smooth vanilla taste with no bite...would love to splurge on a bottle sometime.
First off bourbon. ..yuck lol.. but it's the welcome box
I don't like the sickly sour sweet corn taste in any bourbon and it influences reviews.
This bourbon in simple speak reminds me of a bakery. It has a variety of baked goods qualities to it and almost finishes like a rum. Creative and flavorful
Downside other than being bourbon... very potent, and has an almost medicinal or chemical bite to it.
Very nice, balanced, rounded bourbon. Too good to use as a mixer, but this wasn't, for me, interesting enough to serve to guests or get through a dark night of the soul.
The notes on the pin wheel was on the spot. While drinking, it gave me a sensibility of something magical. Something that warmed my soul and delighted my taste sensors.
This had promise. Started out with a wonderful caramel nose and warming barley presence. Very smooth and silky.... and then nothing. Was waiting for the character to emerge but it seems lacking.
A bit about my taste: I love Scotch and I am also a fan of things like Bulleit Rye, Templeton Rye and the occasional Bastille, French Whisky (one of my faves). That being said, Koval simply lacked any flavor profile other than a very "chemical" taste for me. It was almost like drinking straight alcohol. It was very harsh, bitter and generally unpleasant. I literally can't understand what some of the other reviewers are saying when describing corn tastes, or fruit overtones as they simply didn't exist. It was like I was drinking Acetone or some other chemical compound as opposed to a whiskey. Koval is certainly not one I will be adding to my home bar, nor could I recommend it to anyone.
A whiskey for an unbuttoned flannel, beard wearing kinda guy. A smooth and robust whiskey that has a clean bite and a dry finish. First thing you taste is the barley, almost as if you walked into an old plank wood floor corner store (that smell) as a taste. Natural dry wood smell, that hits the back of your nose every sip. The sweet oak overpowers the faint corn taste and then finishes with a rich caramel-apricot taste leaving behind a thickness in your mouth as if you just smoked a sweet aromatic dark backwood tobacco leaf. It's one for the shelf, but tucked away as a third choice.
A bit harsher than I like, but great flavor on the front end.
Strong caramel nose and sweet palette. But I found it to have some strange taste, like nail polish, which it very hard to enjoy, not sure what it was.
My coworkers described it as smooth but lacking character.
I would give it another shot to see if I just tasted something incorrectly.
Smooth, with a over all hint of wood/tabacco, and nice sweetness, finishes off with a pleasant spicy
I agree with Thomas. This was the best of the first tasting box. Nice smooth taste and one that I will purchase going forward.
Definitely the best out of the first tasting box, I purchased a bottle. Has a nice spice to it and a little bite that I want, and expect from a single barrel. This one will definitely be in my usual rotation of sippers.
My favorite from Flaviar so far. It is a bit spicy and sweet.
I loved it....didn't need to mix it. Would have to agree that didn't taste any fruit but definitely the vanilla and caramel.
Not bad, but not quite a sipper. I wouldn't turn it down, but I also wouldn't drink it neat again. As someone said, it would make a hell of a Manhattan.
My favorite of the welcome box. It was very smooth and generally not bad. It seemed to be a little bland though. Could use some more flavor of some sort. I wouldn't pay $59 for it, but I wouldn't turn it down if someone offered it to me either.
I enjoyed this, especially the spicy notes that pop up throughout. I'm not sure I got the dried apricots, or really any fruit notes, but there certainly was vanilla and caramel. It's not bad on it's own, but I bet it would make one hell of a Manhattan.
This might be a mixer. We don't mix, just sip. It is not a sipper. I'd rather drink Jack (and I don't like Jack).
Smooth - easy to enjoy
Certainly the first of its kind that I've had. I love the mango and stone fruit notes especially. A little too costly for what I feel like it's worth, but I'm generally new to drinking whiskeys.
Strong but not unpleasant.
She's a strong one, but at the same time isn't too harsh. Caramel profile was most prominent (imho). Considering I'm not usually a bourbon drinker, I was pleasantly surprised.
Very Strong but it has good flavor.
Oak flavors very smooth
I was a bit disappointed. I received 3 samples and only two taster cards. For the price of the sample I could have bought a bottle of any one of these bourbons.
Enjoyed the tasting....picked this as the top of the three I got. I'll buy it. Smooth but not the bite I was expecting, could have been bigger. That would have gotten my vote higher than an 8.
Good sipping bourbon
Very good sipping bourbon with a clean finish.
Good but lacked a flavor to distinguish itself amongst our bourbons
Warm and Smooth, yet smoky with a distinctive bite. Slight tongue numbing. Great for sipping. Bite was a bit strong for my preference.
Apricot early fades to a beautiful rum raisin finish!
Very smooth but lacked distinctive flavor
First spirit I tasted out of my welcome box. I am very new to fine spirits so I will simply say I quite enjoyed it.
Very smooth at room temperature, slight bight in the throat, plasant nubming of the tongue. Little to no aftertaste. Great for sipping.
Nice smooth bourbon. I don't have much experience with bourbons but would be happy to enjoy this one again.
Pleasantly surprised by this one in my welcome box. Mellow, smooth, a little sweetness. Oaky aftertaste. Pretty nice! I'd buy it.
Unappealing aftertaste, almost like a cheap whiskey. Not for me.
I was very surprised. This is a wonderful little bourbon. Sweet, smooth, with a woody finish. I may have to get a bottle soon.
I'm not much of a button drinker, but I would say this had an incredible paler to it... and I enjoyed how much the various flavors worked with each other
best yet of the sample box, unexpectedly sweet n very smooth with light aroma that is inviting, subtle n settling to the mouth n toungue
My first as well. Loved the caramel.
Full buttery mouth coating start, sweet and slightly smoky middle, lingering alcoholic finish.
A solid bourbon for sipping
Good but unlike the bourbons I know and love. The tobacco flavor comes across strong to me. If I had this to taste more often, I might get more of an appreciation for its distinction.
This was in my first tester. It's got some pretty amazing flavor. Very mellow, almost no bite but the flavor is absolutely fantastic. It's a perfect sipping whiskey.
Distinctively not Kentucky, which is ok with me. Much smoother and less bite than its neighbors to the south.
Solid bourbon for sharing. Definitely get the sweetness and opens up more with a few drops of water.
Over all smooth just didn't enjoy it over all.
I thought it was pretty smooth and had a nice finish. A good all around whisky.
Sweet, caramel, a little fruit on the nose. Not a long finish but deep, there's a lot going on here.
My favorite from the welcome box. It was very nice and smooth. Noted the fruit and sweetness.
Got the mango right away. Smooth as hell!
I actually have some hints of vanilla and caramel it's deliciously smooth with no bite it's such a pleasant surprise it's become my new standard .
Really enjoyed the subtle sweetness. The mango and apricot are not overwhelming.
Not my favorite out of the "Welcome Box", Complex finish, I have a wimpy palate!
First taste demonstrated heavy char and spice with an intense finish. After the one ice stone it began to mellow, featuring notes of sweet corn and butter, with a fruity finish.
The aroma is somewhat complex. It's very smooth. Has a very small hint of sweet. The middle of the tongue feels the warmth. The back of the tongue has a bit of a burn. While tasty, im not crazy about the fruity taste.
Smooth, fruity, not a typical bourbon that I'm used to a little to virginal,for my taste, I need a woman with some rough edges!
Very tasty! Nice and flavorful
Def my favorite from the welcome box. Had a nice complex flavor profile and a great finish. Nice and smooth, especially after a couple drops of water were added
We enjoyed taste of this bourban. Had fun identfying the aroma. Thought we smelled cinammin, wood, orange....
Taste was smooth, finish was easy and lingering
My favorite of the welcome box. Delicious.
It just hits hard on the outside of tongue. It's hard to taste the earthiness when everything is on fire.
There may be hint of sweetness, but the end result or linger taste is more like licking an ashtray.
Don't normally drink bourbon, but I found this pleasant to the pallet with a smooth finish
Generally don't go in for Bourbon but this was fin.
Not a bourbon fan but liked it
I was surprised at the first sip, the apricot flavoring took me off guard, but the smooth caramel and tobacco finish had me hooked
There was not enough to really taste and judge and give a score of what i think about it.
Best out of the 3 pack welcome set. Smooth.
Smooth, not an overpowering sweetness.
Good smooth bourbon. Would recommend a bottle to friends.
First taste was surprising smooth with a bite of spices
Love it very smooth no need for ice. Smells good, gently sweet with a hint of caramel, tabacco, mango and apricot.
Smooth with a nice finish, worth stocking in the bar.
I liked it though I found it strong in taste.
New to bourbon, I could definitely drink more of this. 8 out of 10. Journeyman from the taste box was second, with Few coming in last.
Great. Way better than anything other product is my testing. Blew Few away.
I personally liked this whisky complex flavor. The others participating in the tasting didn't like it as well as Few
Smells of sherry, has a bit of bite. If you add a cube of ice, the flavor really comes out
I'm trying to get into bourbon from Scotch and Irish Whiskey land, but having a hard time of it. This drink has much of what I don't care for in bourbon.
Not a fan.
Great flavor, but not very smooth.
Nice nose and spice flavors with a light finish. Add water and ice limit the flavors; recommend straight.
Really impressed with this one. Nice, slightly sweet on the finish with corn and caramel. If I see this one on the shelf, I'll pick it up. Well done!
Koval is a Mans drink. The woodiness really stands out to me with a long, smooth finish to let the many other fine bits of goodness rush around and make your mouth very happy. Stands out right away as what I see being a regular in my bar.
The caramel jumps out like it's running the Kentucky Derby. A subtle tobacco aftertaste rounds out the sip.
Koval was a very good creamy sipper, its birth is fruity yet sweet, a life of grain & custard, while its death is long & spicy.
Really like the sweetness!
Easy to drink, smoother than the cheap stuff, but have had better for the price
Definitely my favorite of the three.
Initial vanilla, honey, floral and citrus. Mid of carmel, honey and alcohol. Long finish of orange peel, honey and smoke.
The koval was good didn't care much for the other two though.
Amazing taste. Very smooth with no aftertaste!!!
First off I'm a Scotch drinker and not a big fan of ANY Bourbon but I do enjoy a good Gin & Tonic during the summer months. That being said I guess it was okay for a Bourbon it was a little on the sweet side. I gave it 5 stars because like I said I'm not a Bourbon drinker and have nothing to judge it against
We did NOT love the Koval. It had a metallic taste and lacked sweetness. It seemed unnecessarily harsh with very little payoff. This one is a hard pass.
I really liked this one, has a unique character and smooth. $50 seems like a fair price to me.
Very Smooth and sweet to my taste which I liked
Very smooth even for a beginner like my self.
Very smooth, slightly sweet, great vanilla taste.
Very smooth caught me by surprise
Not a bourbon guy but this is worth a taste. Smooth colorful and a tad sweet. Easier than makers and gentleman jack to sip.
Nice, soft feel, sweet up front, dry finish, not too spicy. A little hot feeling though. Not my favorite, but I can drink this.
Very nice very oaky and a little spice to the finish
By far the most miserable excuse for bourbon I've ever tasted. Paint thinner is cheaper and probably tastes better. They call it "herbal". I call it flat, flavorless, and insulting.
Good whiskey with sweet notes. Pairs well with cigars
Smooth and delicious!
Very strong and delicious! Let this one breathe for sure. Notes of dark caramel, slight sweetness, and apricot. Pungent, industrial cleaning agent smell, so you know it's potent and packs a wallop.
Overpriced, but tolerable...
Loved it, sitting around a campfire with friends talking about the days hunt.
Decent. A lot of sweetness
Very nice, the wife very much like it. She really liked it when mixed.
It's a nice sipping but not quite the depth or finish that I like.
1st Taste of charcoal , Carmel notes, after the second taste it was stronger tasting as the port side came out but the sweetness of the apricot and mango also came out. The 3rd taste was caramel and become smoother and notes of chardness. Overall love the koval over exceeded my expectations and could see me sipping on glass after work to relax with.
It got stronger flavor of Port the more sips you took. Apricot came out
Big fan. very Smooth
Very Smooth. Very Light Flavor.
Not the best not the worst. I like my on the rock and a rock was definitely needed to open this up. I think this could use a couple more years in the barrel.
Not bad. Needs one drop of water to open the fragrances a little. Otherwise you just smell alcohol. Honey and molasses in the nose. Flavor starts a little sharp and mellows into a sweet almost rye flavor. Long and slightly harsh smoky finish. You will tastes the smoke for a while. There are better bourbons out there for this price point. It tastes like a very young bourbon too. Maybe let it age a little longer to mellow it out a little.
Very complex on the nose and taste. Slightly sweet and very smooth. Favorite from the welcome box.
Not very much flavor. Seems empty.
Pleasantly surprised. A very unique and complex flavor profile. Buttery mouthfeel eases the alcohol vapor. Pour and let it sit for 15 min or so to really open it up.
Love it oak notes smooth finish
Good, but could be a little smoother.
Very, very nice - mellow and consistent through and through.
Smooth with a semi sweet taste. Definitely worth taking your time to drink. You'll want to savor this bourbon.
I thought this was really smooth
First off, very complex flavors. Can totally taste the tobacco and a bit of sweetness. Love it.
Good on the back palette. Could def taste the tobacco.
This was excellent! Loved the nose, sweet. The flavor was complex, simple burn, moved up to my sinus, caramel and a desert, like apple pie, then finishes with a hint of tobacco. I lived it.
Not my cup of tea
Tried it in the sample box, my favorite of the three. Still young, need time.
Smooth, taste is a bit flat.
Great taste smooth with a great ending that just kept flavors
Smells sweeter than it tastes. Smoother than I expected with a long finish. I enjoyed it but would not add it to my bar.
Disappointing. Sweet, with a strangely unpleasant note - like it's trying too hard to be sweet, and has missed the definition of subtlety. Marginally drinkable, but not particularly smooth (though that might be the short aging of bourbon as compared to even low-end Whisky). Will avoid in the future.
Nice long finish, not as sweet as I like but glad to see local products used.
Good flavor and finish
Hints of ban an and honey, oakey
Somewhat smooth, but tastes like it was aged in garbage, which is probably the tobacco. I don't see myself ever tasting this brand again.
With this being my first whiskey to actually try to get a feel for intellectually, I got a little vanilla out of the nose and the taste of oak and tobacco. Otherwise I found it to be quite pleasant, something I might enjoy regularly
Liked Journeyman best of the 3, smoother. Could drink the Koval. Did not like the Few
Loved this box!
I don't know bourbons well as I'm more of a scotch fan, but this is how I want my bourbons to taste. Not too sweet, exactly where I want to be. I'd rate it higher if I knew bourbon better
I work out of state so I was looking forward to getting into my tasting box when I got the chance to come home and I did. I tried the Koval and it was really tasty. I'm not a mixer so I did it straight from the shot glass. 1 I threw back and the other I sipped. Excellent. I'm gone again for about another month but I look forward to testing the others and will make my decision on which I will order. If the other two are as good as the Koval, it would not be a stretch for me to order one of each.
It was very good. My wife who is not a bourbon drinker said it was very smooth.
was not delivered please refund my money and cancel my membership
I enjoyed this spirit. I could definitely taste the white oak. It had a nice smoothness to it. not too girly and not to harsh. I would consider buying more of this, but you're not selling any.
Delightful scents and flavors but one -dimensional
Smooth, usually a rye whiskey drinker. Sold on this one!
Far smoother than credit given prior to tasting. Out of the 3 in the tasting box Few - Journeyman - & Koval - For myself the Koval Takes it! Amazing. However, I will note that I am far from a Drink Cone suer.
It was our favorite. Very smooth and flavorful.
I enjoyed this gem very much! I will definitely be sipping on this again in my near future.
Sooooo unique! You love it or hate it but it's deffinitively different.
Seemed like every other Bourbon, tingly in the mouth, little burn going down
Very rich and smooth flavor. Very aromatic. All around delicious. Will definitely order!!!
Very smooth and not to strong
This was a very pleasant drink with no Ice or water. Very smooth and mild, a little sweet. A little burn on the first couple of sips in the back of the throat but still smooth.
Not bad taste and better then aroma. Smooth finish
Not a bourbon guy. Not too complex. Not enough depth for my taste. But pleasant enough for sipping.
Not my favorite. Too harsh.
Fiery drink with a bit of a bit and a burn. Not the smoothest but will definitely warm you on a cold winter's night.
I am terrible a determining flavors or smells. I am just at 'like it' or 'don't like it' person. The Koval I liked. it makes a good sipping bourbon.
Buck yeah is better
I like this one very well
I'm not a bourbon guy... But these were interesting and OK in small quantities for me.
Smells fruity, middle range in color. Strong tobacco taste. Would try again.
Young but not bad. Beats the more common bourbons with mellow sweetness and a mature finish. Smoother than I thought it would be.
I'd buy it. Yea.
Sweeter than I usually like, but I didn't mind this one at all. The port and fruit flavors were definitely present for me. It was a nice after dinner drink.
Loved this bourbon. Going to be buying a bottle for my home
Fuel oil - rancid odors
Sweet full from beginning to end with a little heat
Pleasantly sweet and smooth but not a lot of depth on my flavor pallet. Not the best but not the worst. Curious what it would taste like after 10 years in a barrel.
This bourbon would be great for cocktails like Old Fashions or Mint Juleps. A little sweet, but pretty smooth. Not a lot of character though when sipped straight.
Definitely wasn't a fan of the Koval. Very young, no complexity. Definitely sweet and fruity up front with an unpleasant alcohol burn (not a good spicy burn) on the back. No flavor on the finish.
Very good! A sweeter flavor. Not too harsh. We really liked this one!
Meh.... average at best
Fruity and piney nose, pepper and smoke on the tongue, clean finish
Oddly sweet. Reminds me of Summer's in my Great Grandmothers kitchen.
A very young bourbon that suffers for it's age. I loved it when I tried the sampler pack, but by the time I purchased a bottle my tastes had changed. Good for beginners.
Literally my favorite bourbon, and I have tried at least 100. Deep, smoky barrel taste with a smooth, pleasant, full finish without the heavy bite. Surprised my favorite would be a newer player out of Chicago, but the bourbon is simply excellent.
I did not like this one. It had a heavy taste of barley or plant.
So good I just ordered a second bottle even though I still have half a bottle left. I am impressed with how smooth this is.
What about the Kentucky thing with bourbon???
Very good, very bourbon...
Millet fills out the rest of the mash, balancing and softening that cut-throat corn. Smoother than many, but definitely still a bourbon
This is an extremely smooth bourbon. It has a really distinctive taste, and the finish has just the right amount of heat. It should interest any bourbon drinker whether they are a long time fan or a recent convert.
Very nice flavor. I'm new to this tasting thing and so far it's been a very pleasant experience
Stunning. The nose kept a strong interest in the drink followed by a great taste.
I received the sample of this in my welcome package and it was intriguing enough to want to try again. Definitely something I want to add to my collection.
I really liked this Bourbon! Very unique with a nice soft & sweet finish!
Unique, smooth, great finish, no burn, a hint of sweetness.
Weird. Nose was strong of caramel and pears. Flavor was sweet and sugary. Not a lot of Depth to this one. Mostly sugar booze. I do want to try it again, but I'm not sure what id do with it.